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Bon Iver: For Emma, Forever Ago

Jude Rogers, Guardian, The, 23 May 2008

HEARTBREAK OFTEN buckles sad records, turning sentimental confessions into whiny navel-gazing exercises. So thank heaven for Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, who avoids this problem beautifully. For Emma, Forever Ago was recorded in a Wisconsin cabin one winter, driven by the breakup of a relationship and a band. It revels in its sparseness, layering Vernon's high vocals and gentle guitar lines over and over like soft webs of regret. Its lyrics bubble with mystery, too: images of blood, brassieres, crows and snow float by like gentle accusations. Nothing is overplayed, but nothing feels throwaway either.

Total word count of piece: 94