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September 17, 2007 | by  | in Music |
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Jose Gonzalez – In Our Nature

Swedish singer/songwriter Jose Gonzalez has delivered another impressive acoustic effort with second album In Our Nature. This album makes no unexpected moves – it’s very similar to his debut Veneer in terms of production, aesthetic and instrumentation. Most of the songs here could have come from either album. However, what In Our Nature lacks in terms of progression and development is amply made up for in the precise intensity and graceful poise of Gonzalez’ performance.

Like Nick Drake and Elliott Smith before him, Gonzalez delivers autumnal, melancholy acoustic bedroom music. Also, like Drake and Smith, he balances dark lyrical subject matter with bursts of warm sweetness and hope, giving a candid insight into the human condition that few songwriters could hope to achieve without sounding trite.

Lyrically, In Our Nature contains some similar themes from Veneer, focusing largely on relationships and intimacy (‘Time to Send Someone Away’, ‘The Nest’). However, Gonzalez has also ventured into interesting and potentially awkward territory – the protest song.

In tracks such as ‘How Low’ and ‘Down the Line’, he delivers strong indictments upon global war-mongering, such as ‘how low are you willing to go before you reach of your selfish goals? / Invasion after invasion/ this means war’ and ‘someday you’ll be up to your knees in the shitty sea’. Even more deliberate is the song ‘Killing For Love’, in which he pleads the question, ‘what’s the point/ if you hate and kill for love?’

As unexpected as it is, this move from relationship observation to the realm of political commentary doesn’t come off as insincere. What’s more, it’s balanced with the same fantastic guitar work and double-tracked vocal effects that made Veneer such a delight. A real highlight is closing track ‘Cycling Trivialities’, a soaring, hypnotic, 8-minute gem that truly embodies the hope and promise present in Gonzalez’ music.

If you liked Veneer, or if you like bare, intimate acoustic guitar music in general, pick this up – you’ll not be disappointed.

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