For long, the classical guitar has been overshadowed by its electric counterparts, left to collect dust under the bed of popular music. But finally, thanks to José González’s latest album, Veneer, it’s back in the spotlight in a way that would make Manuel Barrueco proud.
Few adjectives have the ability to give the Swedish-born Argentinian’s music the justice it deserves, but suffice it to say that José González has tremendous talent. Never before have I come across such humble yet affective melodies exhibiting both skill and technique evocative of Nick Drake, Cat Stevens and Joaquín Rodrigo. But such comparisons cannot in any way deny the originality with which González writes and plays his musical prose, and his soothing voice singing such uncluttered refrains left me hitting repeat to listen to his album just one more time, again and again.
González mastered the classical guitar quickly after his departure from playing bass in the rock group Back Against the Wall, and released Veneer in 2003. According to his site’s biography, he grew up surrounded by both Latin American music as well as UK and American pop, and this cosmopolitan blend is largely evident in this debut collection. He has since been touring Europe and the US (I really regret missing his July show in London!), and has provided vocals alongside Sia Furler for Zero 7’s The Garden album. His song ‘Heartbeats’ (a cover for The Knife‘s 2002 single) was also featured in the now notorious Sony BRAVIA advert (more on that in an upcoming post), and he has also covered tracks by Massive Attack (‘Teardrops’) and Kylie Minogue (‘Hand On Your Heart’).
Several months ago, González performed songs from his album for Spin‘s SpinHouse Live, and as I can’t upload the original audio tracks here, below are the video clips for five of his songs that left me wishing I could grab my guitar and fingerpick with such beauty and ease…
Sarah Badr © MMVI
See also: José González on MySpace
Track 6 Deadweight on Velveteen
Track 9 Hints
Track 3 Lovestain
Track 4 Heartbeats
Track 5 Crosses