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For Emma, Forever Ago

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Buy together

9% of people buy For Emma, Forever Ago and Bon Iver (LP) ~ Vinyl ~ Bon Iver.

Buy together: $75.05

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5.0 out of 5 stars Based on 17 Customer Ratings

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"Simply beautiful"
5 stars"
Purchased on Mighty Ape

A amazing songwriter and being able to physically hold the amazing sounds he produced is a wonderful experience.


Now available on vinyl. Recorded in a cold, isolated cabin in Wisconsin, this debut by Justin Vernon's Bon Iver is rich in wintry intimacy and frosty atmospherics, charting the solitary sounds of a writer in quiet self-reflection. Much has been made of the circumstances that led to this album's composition and recording, and it's inevitable that the imagery of isolation should feed into how the album is digested – even the name Bon Iver is a corruption of the French for ‘good winter’, further compounding the album's snowy pedigree. Although in essence opener ‘Flume’ is a simple acoustic ballad, the song is bolstered greatly by layers of echoing texture and bristling guitar string overtones, and it's these kinds of textures that elevate the album beyond the normality of singer/songwriter-dom. There's a comparison to be made between the multitracked vocal compositions that illuminated last year's Phospho­rescent album, Pride, and pieces like ‘Lump Sum’, which opens with a reverberant canyon of choral layering. Funnily enough, just as with that Phosphorescent album, one of the finest tracks here is called ‘Wolves’ (clearly these two are kindred spirits) although the Bon Iver song is rather more rambunctious than its counterpart, featuring a clattery, out of time drum kit, building up to an outright dirge. Back to those vocals: for an otherwise conventional troubadour type setup Justin Vernon's delivery is quite unusual; he has more in common with TV On The Radio or crikey – even the Bee Gees, such is his polyphonic falsetto. It really instils a sense of character in the record, and most of those atmospheric touches come from the voice rather than elaborate instrumental work, in fact, the vocals have to carry most of the album – aside from a little brass, on ‘For Emma’ and the occasional smattering of percussion here and there, Vernon's only real instrument is a simply strummed acoustic guitar. Despite such humble arrangements the album succeeds as a highly memorable, evocative listen. This will be massive – and deservedly so. Highly Recommended.

Bon Iver is the work of Justin Vernon. He isolated himself in a remote cabin in Wisconsin for almost four months, writing, and recording the songs on For Emma, Forever Ago, his haunting debut album. A few parts (horns, drums, and backing vocals) were added in a North Carolina studio, but for the majority of the time it's just Vernon, his utterly disarming voice, and his enchanting songs. The voice is the first thing you notice. Vernon's falsetto soars like a hawk and when he adds harmonies and massed backing vocals, it can truly be breathtaking. “The Wolves (Acts I & II)” truly shows what Vernon can do as he croons, swoops, and cajoles his way through an erratic and enchanting melody like Marvin Gaye after a couple trips to the backyard still. “Skinny Love” shows more of his range as he climbs down from the heights of falsetto and shouts out the angry and heartachey words quite convincingly. Framing his voice are suitably subdued arrangements built around acoustic guitars and filled out with subtle electric guitars, the occasional light drums, and slide guitar. Vernon has a steady grasp of dynamics too; the ebb and flow of “Creature Fear” is powerfully dramatic and when the chorus hits it's hard not to be swept away by the flood of tattered emotion. Almost every song has a moment where the emotion peaks and hearts begin to weaken and bend: the beauty of that voice is what pulls you through every time. For Emma captures the sound of broken and quiet isolation, wraps it in a beautiful package, and delivers it to your door with a beating, bruised heart. It's quite an achievement for a debut and the promise of greatness in the future is high. Oh, and because you have to mention it, Iron & Wine. Also, Little Wings. Most of all, though, Bon Iver.
Tim Sendra,

Track Listing:

Side A:
  1. Flume
  2. Lump Sum
  3. Skinny Love
  4. The Wolves (Act I And II)
  5. Blindsided
  6. Creature Fear
  7. Team
  8. For Emma
  9. Re: Stacks
Release date NZ
November 14th, 2013
Number of Discs
Original Release Year
Box Dimensions (mm)
All-time sales rank
Top 5000
Product ID


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