- 17 Sep 21
First album in six years from Swedish troubadour.
José González burst onto the scene back in 2003, when his cover of The Knife’s ‘Heartbeats’ struck a collective chord, although that seems far too dramatic a phrasing for the way the Swedish singer’s tender, folk vibes quietly unveil their languid charms.
Local Valley is just his fourth solo album in 18 years, so González could hardly be accused of over-exerting himself. This time around, he sings in all three languages in which he is fluent – English, Swedish and Spanish – but no matter which tongue he uses, the lyrics are framed by delicately plucked Spanish guitar, folky vocal harmonies and arrangements so laid-back they are almost horizontal.
‘Line Of Fire’ and ‘Visions’ are reminiscent of the great ‘70s songwriters in their prime: the former has echoes of James Taylor, while the latter’s multi-tracked vocals sound not unlike a Simon & Garfunkel duet, seriously high praise in this parish. Then there’s the shimmering fragility of ‘Horizons’; the lovely ‘Valle Local’, where the drone effect contrasts with González’s fingers’ speed over the frets; and the quietly compelling groove of ‘Tjomme’. The result is rather like dipping into a particularly welcoming bath: a balm for the soul amid the virus-driven stresses and strains of the past 18 months.