Music Reviews

José González Local Valley

(Imperial Recordings/Mute) Rating - 7/10

After releasing a trio of celebrated albums in the mid-2000s, José Gonzalez's musical output became sparser. Six years after 2015's Vestiges & Claws, the Swedish singer-songwriter returns with a new batch of calm, unhurried folk that resonates with a timeless quality like the changing of seasons. This time, his absence was due to him becoming a father and wanting to spend more time with his two kids. And though his nimble, fingerpicking arrangements remain, just as translucent as ever, González experiments with new approaches to spice things up. González, whose parents are Argentinian, sings in Spanish for the first time on El Invento—a gorgeous acoustic lullaby about questioning oneself in the universe. He shapes the track with a natural flow, thriving wonderfully from his fear of singing in a different language. González adds in playful elements like metronomic percussion (Lasso In) and danceable cumbia rhythms with mixed results (Swing.) And though both are charming in their own right, they don't quite measure up to the haunting simplicity of his best work.