José Gonzalez’s long-awaited fourth album, Local Valley,
finds him - in the words of the first single ‘Visions' - “Imagining the worlds that could be / Shaping a mosaic of fates / For all sentient beings.”
Few people would - or could - slip such a bold claim into a song so soberly and nimbly, but then again, few people have managed to become quite so celebrated worldwide quite as quietly as José Gonzalez has. What a relief it is to be reminded that you don’t have to be loud to be heard. Since he first arrived with debut single ‘Crosses' back in 2003, both he and his music have remained dependably quiet and unassuming. To underestimate him on account of his modest nature, however, would certainly be regrettable.
provides a welcome reminder of his understated appeal and his singular ability to communicate discreetly. Beginning with the sun-dappled ‘El Invento', the first song he’s recorded in Spanish (the native tongue of his Argentinian heritage), and ending with the intimate yet rhapsodic ‘Honey Honey', it engages in his signature melodic and metrical hypnotism on ‘Head On' and ‘Tjomme' and showcases his impressive fingerpicking skills on ‘Valle Local', while there’s evidence of his love for music from around the world in, among other tracks, ‘Swing'’s Caribbean flavours.
It’s also full of his trademark, bittersweet pastoralism, including ‘Visions' and ‘Horizon' - which, alongside ‘El Invento', Gonzalez considers “my most accomplished songs to date” - not to mention ‘The Void', ‘Lasso In', and of course ‘Line Of Fire', which continues his tradition of reinterpreting songs by other artists like The Knife and Kylie Minogue, though on this occasion he picks one written for Junip, the band he formed with friends in 1998, which, after two albums, he continues to maintain with co-founder Tobias Winterkorn. That the original version has now been streamed some 60 million times suggests it, like other songs he’s covered, is now part of the songwriting canon.