Amid the mountains of musical garbage, it is difficult to find a new sound that is worth listening to. For this reason, José González shines. His music is a rare gem, one that should appeal to young urban hipsters as well as aging baby boomers. As someone told me, it’s the kind of music you would listen to in the tub after lighting some candles and incense.
With its Spanish guitar influences and his soft, gentle voice, it easy to see that the beauty of González’s music is in its intimacy. His presence is as unassuming in his character as it is in his songs. You could be listening to his album Veneer in a room full of people and still feel like he is singing just for you.
For example, the song “Heartbeats” (a cover of The Knife’s electro, New Wave-ish song and a personal favorite of mine) rings of early Simon and Garfunkel, with a beautiful guitar medley and vocal harmonies. But, unlike Simon and Garfunkel whose music was made for two parts, González puts the piece together as a solo artist while creating a sound of more than one person. Songs like “Slow Moves” or “Deadweight on Velveteen” are lyrically poetic and musically sound. “Lovestain” takes bitter and dark lyrics and sets them against an upbeat guitar picked tune that includes hand claps, making your head nod.
In his song “Crosses,” González makes an obvious religious connection (“Crosses all over, heavy on your shoulders”) but the entire song plays like a lullaby, one that could be sung to a sleeping child or a heartbroken lover. This song is also featured on the Zero 7’s “The Garden,” an album on which González also worked.
The songs on Veneer are short vignettes, the longest song being less than four minutes, which makes the entire album just about thirty minutes long. Short, but sweet. And it will make you want to play it over and over again.