If you're the kind of person who believes in reincarnation, it would be reasonable to assume that when Nick Drake left this mortal plane in 1974, his soul — or at least his soulful voice — landed in Sweden in 1978 to a newborn of Argentine heritage named José González.
Like a teacher who lowers his voice so a class pays attention, González's low-volume singing and acoustic guitar stylings command your eardrums in a manner rarely displayed since the days of Pink Moon. While González's whispered singing is always a treat in his original compositions, it is his covering of seemingly already perfect songs, like Massive Attack's "Teardrop" or Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart," that makes him stand out from any of his quiet peers.
This past February, González released his third solo album, Vestiges and Claws. It came after an eight-year break since his sophomore album, In Our Nature. During this hiatus, he was still recording music with the band Junip as well as releasing songs in soundtracks for videogames and movies, like Ben Stiller's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
It was a long-coming reward to his fans, though, to finally get a full dose of González with Vestiges and Claws. Its inspiration, as he shared in an interview with Australian publication Acid Stag earlier this year, laid deeper the claim that he might be an old soul: "'Vestige' stands for a concept that is useful when I think about humanity, humans in a biological sense. For me, the interesting part with that word is that it applies to cultures too, in existing places for something that is disappearing or has disappeared,
González will be bringing such tuneful existential musings, as well as his guitar (which he picks with his fingernails), to Hollywood ArtsPark on Monday for the opening night of an extensive tour aimed to get him away from the chilly Scandinavian autumn. Backed by a full band, González won't be alone on the stage, but the echoes of his haunting voice are sure to capture the sensation of loneliness.
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