For Emma, Forever Ago


If there was an award for label of the year, it would have to go to Jagjaguwar. With already 3 records on our top 15 list (#5, #6, #14), the fourth and final Jagjaguwar release on our list comes in as our third best record of 2008.

For Emma, Forever Ago is one of the most authentic, original and organic folk albums in recent memory. Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver) captured, with staggering perfection, the sound of a cold, isolated winter in Wisconsin. Undeniably, the story of his retreat into solitude has been romanticized to a certain degree, but it is not difficult to hear this landscape in his music. Vernon’s evocative lyricism and minimalist melodies made For Emma feel intimate, even conversational at times (“in the morning I’ll call you”). The album flows with a narrative trajectory and each song tells its own story. From the cathartic yelps of “Skinny Love” to the collected resignations of “Re: Stacks”, Vernon poignantly reflects the universal need for self-reflection. His humility only enhanced the mystique he constantly shrugged off and Bon Iver’s live band incarnation saw every track reaching new heights. For Emma may not be a pioneering effort musically, but the final product is one of extreme integrity and severe beauty. --Michael Cranston

Jagjaguwar

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For Emma, Forever Ago