Review: In Our Nature, Jose Gonzalez


González found unlikely fame thanks to a Sony Bravia advert which featured his charming cover of moody fellow Swedish synth-pop geniuses The Knife’s ‘Heartbeats’. Nothing on his first record matched that track and nothing on this, the long-awaited follow up, does either. But that is not to say that González is a one-trick-pony. His minimal vocal and guitar style, combined with achingly sparse melodies and fleeting lyrical images distinguish him from the crowd of angsty singer-songwriters clogging the airwaves. González is most reminiscent of the influential folk/blues maestro Bert Jansch. Strident, insistent guitar parts combined with a slightly detached vocal style are characteristic both of Jansch’s work and of In Our Nature.  
The melodies on the album at first appear more upbeat than those of its predecessor, but the profoundly Nordic existential-angst that premeated the lyrics of Veneer is still very much in evidence. Soaring closer ‘Cycling Trivialities’ concludes at the last that “it all comes down to… trivialities”, and the record is haunted by González’ fear of being ‘let down’.
A reinterpretation of Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrop’ perhaps attempts to replicate the success of ‘Heartbeats’, and although it does not have the power of that track it is still a creative take on the original. González seems to have a talent for taking a track from any genre and making it very much a José González song (Joy Division and Kylie have also been the on the receiving end of his makeover treatment).
In Our Nature is an unspectacular album, and does little to move away from the simple setup of González’s debut: multitracked vocals on the title track and occasional intrusions of basic percussion represent the only broadening of the musical range. Yet in his quiet way González is able to craft beautiful and glowingly sincere songs which are well worth a listen.


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