When Justin Vernon’s band and love relationship both broke up, he moved from Raleigh, NC, back to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and for three months he took up residence in his father’s cabin in the woods — three cold months: December 2006 – February 2007. During those months, though he only to recuperate and not write songs, write songs he did.
When he emerged from the cabin, he’d written and recorded the songs to what would become For Emma, Forever Ago, the first project of his new band, Bon Iver (an anglicanization of the French phrase bon hiver, “good winter”). The tracks were later overdubbed with some percussion, flute, horns, and even a choir on one song — a part that Bon Iver invites their crowds to sing at their live shows.
If you’ve never been to a cabin in the north woods of Minnesota or Wisconsin, this is what it sounds like. This album will transport you there.
Although it might remind you of Iron & Wine, Vernon’s falsetto is ethereal and the the album’s underproduced rawness (like, for instance, the buzz of guitar strings on the fretboard) set it apart.
Give yourself a gift that’s more Advent than Christmas, and get this album: