Come On, Skinny Love

Like John Marks and my uncle Omar, I am prone to enthusiasms. It's not unusual for me to hear some new piece of music and wind up feeling that I need it—neeeeeeed it. So what? Music is great. It is unusual for me, though, to hear some new piece of music and be so moved by it that I leave work early, race up Madison Avenue, charge down into Grand Central, take the 4 to Union Square, and face the many temptations of the vast Virgin Megastore to buy that new piece of music.

That's what I did yesterday, after hearing a couple of tracks off of Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago. And during a non-pay week, at that! It took all the power in my soul to leave Virgin with only the single CD. That place is like a whorehouse for a love addict. I swear: There is so much great music in the world. I sometimes worry that I won't have enough time here to listen to it all. A lifetime is too short. I have a tough time finding sympathy for people who say there is nothing good to listen to. Those people are not looking, they're not listening. Every time I walk into the Virgin Megastore, I imagine myself on a shopping spree. I have an enormous shopping cart, and I am wearing a maroon Adidas track suit. There is a camera crew behind me and a guy with a megaphone, cheering me on. I race down the aisles—first Rock, then R&B, then World, before going downstairs and hitting Jazz and Classical and Blues—with my arms outstretched, drawing albums into my cart like a shepherd gathering his flock.

Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago is a touching, haunting, poetic thing, easily strummed and openly sung. Bon Iver is just messing around, but he's not messing around at all. Harmonized vocals overlap, rise and fall over acoustic guitar, whistles, horns, and gentle, gentle percussion.

(so apropos:
saw death on a sunny snow)

"for every life..."

"forgo the parable."

"seek the light."

" knees are cold."

It's the kind of album, like Springsteen's Nebraska or Smog's A River Ain't Too Much To Love, that you listen to in the dark, with your eyes closed, feeling good.

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rvance's picture

Corrine Bailey Rae hit me like that after hearing "Put Your Records On." So laid back and uplifting and mature beyond her years. The album turned out to be an R&B joy that I let lull me to sleep when my mind wouldn't let me rest. Aimee Mann came from a more miserable, but just as powerful sensibility with "Lost In Space": Dark tales of loss, regret and broken trust under a cocktail haze of drugs and disillusionment. There's a world-weary, waning ember of self-awareness in her that burns with just enough energy to deliver the repeated warning: "I'm damaged goods- quit trying to fix us- it's hopeless." The authenticity and honesty of her insight gives me hope, not despair.I just bought the Mo-Fi hi-rez SACD versions of "Surfer Rosa" and "Doolittle" and am reveling in the deeper sonic details of Frank Black's wacked out vision. I have 9 more titles on the way. Music keeps me in debt, but there's worse addictions (ask Aimee Mann).

toomas's picture

Oh yeah, Corrine Bailey Rae.. saw her on one of the "Live From Abbey Road" episodes.. it's just beautiful!

chad's picture

i first heard the song "skinny love" as a single on a Paste Magazine CD sampler. immediately i ordered the album from since no local stores had it on the shelf. it is clearly an important record...the kind that defines a year for one's personal memory log...however, his voice gets a little whinny after the 100th listen!glad to see someone at Stereophile is on the new music scene...cheers

Samantha Jjone's picture

good work keep it up

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