Pitchfork List: Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago

I’ve had this album on MP3 for a while now, maybe at least five years. I also got it on vinyl last year, so it’s one that’s never gotten old or lost it’s flare over time for me. I listen to it a bit less, but upon listening to it again I remembered just how great this album it is. It’s one that must be listened to from start to finish.

History:  The album was released in 2007 as a self-released album. It didn’t get a record label to pick it up till afterward. The album’s story is widely known as Justin Vernon explained the album originated in a cabin after a breakup from a girlfriend. The album as received very great reviews, but there has been critics who weren’t so fond of the album. The lyrical content is very obscure bothering some and welcoming others.

Vocals: Justin Vernon uses some higher range vocals in this album, and honestly that is a huge part of why this album caught my attention. Vernon’s vocals are so high and you wouldn’t imagine that being appealing to listen to, but it is. I think the album is very depressing. It’s good, but depressing. Anyways, to relate to this to the vocals, it sounds as if his vocals are crying. I think one song that stood out for me is “Wolves Part 1 and Part 2” because in this one he starts varying his vocals from higher to a little lower, and making them sound even robotic like. It’s a cool effect.

Instrumentals: The instrumentals are beautiful on this album, and it’s one of the few albums that I listen to and it makes me want to pick up the guitar again. I love the raw vibe of the guitar in the songs, and how he just strums so frantic like. “Skinny Love” might be the most folksy song on the album with the acoustics and the drumming. There are also other notable effects like on “Wolves Part 1 and Part 2” where the ending sounds like trains on a train track. It’s just the perfect atmosphere.

Recording: The recording is quite unique as it took being stowed away in a cabin and then releasing it on his own to get it out there. You can tell a lot of heart ache in the album and the feelings happening. I also thought that Justin Vernon caught the surroundings he was living in the album. It has that winter feel to the album as if you are living in the cabins in the woods somewhere. The folk sound and the rawness of the album has it something that will hold up well over time.

For Emma, Forever Ago remains one of my favorite albums. It’s simple and has a lot of emotions. It’s hard to deny that it does get me down a bit when listening though. The first half of the album is very sad, but then for the second half something begins to look a bit up from there. Instrumentally, it’s a great album, and the vocals are very unique. The vague songwriting will leave the music open to interpretation for many as well.

Rating 10 of 10.

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