There’s a pleasing synchronicity between the pace at which a José González record tends to unfurl and the frequency of their arrival. The Swedish singer-songwriter remains best known for his cover of The Knife’s ‘Heartbeats’, not least because of its apparently evergreen popularity with film and TV soundtrackers. It featured on his debut album, Veneer, which came out in 2003; this new one, Local Valley, is only his third since then. As we’ve come to expect from González, this is an exercise in hushed, glacial indie folk, with quiet contemplative vocals over intricately plucked guitars.
Those sated by his gentle approach will find Local Valley similarly balm-like, although it’s also worth pointing out that there is subtle progression here, too; this is the first album on which the trilingual González has sung not only in English, but in his native Swedish – see ‘En Stund På Jorden’, a sparse ballad even by his standards – and in the Spanish of his ancestors, as on handsome opener ‘El Invento’. It’s possible that this has nudged him, in places, towards musical evolution, too; ‘Tjomme’, named for a Swedish term of endearment specific to his hometown of Gothenburg, equivalent to ‘mate’ in English, is driven by genuine groove. For the most part, though, González remained almost admirably unmoved by the passage of time; as softly thoughtful as ever.
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