José González, “Vestiges & Claws”

José González - Vestiges & ClawsJosé González
Vestiges & Claws
MUTE
7/10

It’s been nearly eight years since José González’s last solo album. During that “down” time he’s been surfacing regularly—both as a member of Junip and working on the occasional cinematic one-off (most notably contributing to The Secret Life of Walter Mitty soundtrack). But his third effort, Vestiges & Claws, is an extended return to what González does best: whipping up soothing balms with little more than airy vocals and impressive guitar finger-picking. Sure, sonic detectives will notice a light percussive backbeat to “Stories We Build, Stories We Tell” and a flute in “The Forest,” but these are—at most—mild accruements. His first cover-song-free album, Vestiges & Claws showcases González’s ever-flourishing songwriting skills. He never loses sight of his signature sonic pallet, using a mere phrase to suggest a world of emotion. (See: minimal, masterclass album closer “Open Book.”) How can one musician use so little to signify so much? For González less isn’t just more—it’s everything.

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