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Bon Iver:For Emma, Forever Ago

By Sean Smith

Fort Wayne Reader


When Justin Vernon a.k.a. Bon Iver isolated himself in a cabin in northwestern Wisconin during the winter of 2006/2007, creating an album was the last thing on his mind. The plan was to simply get away and get some space between him and the series of losses he'd endured throughout 2006. First there was the weight loss, a result of Vernon coming down with a form of mononucleosis that attacked his liver and left him bedridden for three months. Then there was the breakup of his band, DeYarmond Edison, followed by a breakup with his girlfriend.

But, all of that time spent alone presented an opportunity for his thoughts and ideas to morph into lyrics and melodies and eventually, like it or not, a record was in the making. The recording sessions, which consisted of Vernon on vocals and all instruments (mostly guitar) and a few friends playing trumpet and trombone on one track and drums on another, took place at the cabin and later in North Carolina.

The result was For Emma, Forever Ago, which was self released in limited quantities early last year under the name Bon Iver. The pseudonym was derived from an episode of Northern Exposure and misspelled when signing a letter to a friend (Bon Hiver is French for 'Good Winter').

The Bloomington, Indiana based record label Jagjaguwar has since signed on for a re-release of the album and listeners can expect 9 excellent songs that meld blue-eyed soul and folk. Think Michael McDonald singing Vic Chesnutt tunes. You may also hear elements of Ben Harper or Antony Hegarty in his voice. The overall tone of the album is warm and inspiring, which is surprising given the trials undergone to get there. Perhaps a reminder of the spring that awaits the chilling winter.

Catch Bon Iver live at Bear's Place in Bloomington on February 15th and then pick up For Emma, Forever Ago on the 19th.

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