Review Summary: Like being carried off to heaven by the angels.
When Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) headed up to Wisconsin from North Carolina he didn’t plan to write or play music; all he wanted to do was hibernate and forget about his recent break up with his girlfriend and his band’s demise. Vernon took refuge at his father's cabin in the midst of winter in Northern Wisconsin and while watching Northern Exposure he came up with the moniker "Bon Iver," a corrupted French term meaning “good winter.” After recovering from mononucleosis of the liver, Vernon decided to cease hibernation and do the one thing that made him truly happy; make music.
Vernon began his music making process by playing out melodies by sound, writing down all the notes and then later writing lyrics that worked with the melody. Using an old guitar, his brothers’ drums and some ancient recording equipment, Vernon created his musical masterpiece by himself. During production he overdubbed the music so much that it gives the impression that there are hundreds of voices singing with him in the background.
Vernon’s first thought was to record the songs on a demo for record labels in hopes of getting signed, but after listening to it, his friends urged him to release it on his own. He self-released the album entitled For Emma, Forever Ago, which was later picked up by the indie rock record label, Jagjaguwar, and a given a proper release. For Emma, Forever Ago placed on almost every album chart in 2008.
Vernon incorporated music styles such as pop, folk, gospel and soul into one tightly wound album of magic. The album goes from the slow, beautiful song, "Flume" then later expresses Vernon’s pop side with "Skinny Love." "The Wolves (Act I & II)” is an amazing journey through the northern Wisconsin winter. Vernon’s magnificent voice makes every song on this album wonderful in its own way.
For Emma, Forever Ago is one of the best albums of 2008, if not the best. Vernon’s combination of folk and indie rock is some of the best music ever engineered by one person. Folk music has now earned a special place in my heart due to this album. I knew the first time I heard "Flume" and "Blindsided" that this was going to be one of my favorite albums of all time. The only question left now is, how long we will have to wait for another astounding album like For Emma, Forever Ago.