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Veneer

4.6 out of 5 stars 75 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 4, 2006
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Editorial Reviews

Twenty-six-year-old Gothenburg resident Jos‚ Gonz lez makes a little go a long way. Armed with just a dextrously plucked Spanish guitar and his own warm but clipped vocals he paints intimate portraits that sound like classics from a golden singer/songwriting yesteryear. Of Argentinean descent, Gonz lez counts bossa nova and Joy Division among his influences, and sure enough, stately, quietly expansive songs like Heartbeats and Hints are equal parts Latin passion and gothic introspection. The lilting Stay In The Shade, meanwhile, sounds like a luminous Nick Drake outtake. No mean achievement.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 4, 2006)
  • Reissue ed. edition
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Mute (Artist Intelligence)
  • ASIN: B000ETRB9K
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,256 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Juan Mobili on September 21, 2005
Format: Audio CD
When it comes to Folk, recent years have been bountiful with great new and original artists. Whether you think of Sam Beam, Polly Paulusma or Devendra Banhart, just to name just a very few great and distinct voices.

Folk is reinventing itself and, as the Kings of Inconvenience's first album announced, "quiet is the new loud." In that vein, "Veneer" -Jose Gonzalez's debut- should be considered another omen of Folk's unending trove of beauties, and proof that this is someone to keep tabs on.

Jose Gonzalez is a resident Gothenburg, Sweden, the son of Argentinean parents and, as the result of this album, this year's "best new artist" Swedish Grammy winner.

The story goes that his father gave Jose two books of guitar tunes -one of Beatles' songs and the other Bossa Nova- after which point he picked up the instrument, studied Flamenco and Classical guitar, developed an interest on Joao Gilberto and Joy Division, and started to compose his own material.

Speaking of his songs, the comparisons already abound, some are too generic -are we going to associate anyone who picks up an acoustic guitar and sings in a hushed voice with Nick Drake?- while other may misguide you. For instance, there's indeed a touch of early Paul Simon, parallels to Iron & Wine and even a hint of Mark Kozelek, in Gonzalez' style.

Still, when it comes to influences, I find stronger forces shaping his sound. Namely, the spirit of Joao Gilberto's intimate gems and the apparent inheritance of Argentinean melancholia ... all good things, of course, but not telling the full story about this guy.

Gonzalez is more than a faithful copyist. What he's done is embodied his influences deeply, and brought a very personal tone to these -all self-penned- songs.
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Format: Audio CD
Like many, I first became aware of Jose Gonzalez through one of his songs, "Heartbeats" being used to advertise a new electronic product on TV. The scene in the ad was typical California: San Francisco, a warm sunny day, and with loads of different beautiful colours dancing across the screen. The song captured the scene magnificently, and apparently, the advertising was telling us that this was the beauty of colour that would get with one of these TVs.

The interesting thing is that the lyrics of the song, ("To call for hands of above, to lean on. Wouldn't be good enough for me") have absoultely nothing to do with either bright summer days or fancy new electronic gadgets but somehow it just works. The sheer warmth of his voice (drenched in - to these ears - latin/Brazilian influence) and the magic of his guitar playing, just makes it work. In fact, it wouldn't really matter what language he was singing in. Even if it was Martian, I'd still love it.

The other interesting thing, at least for me, is that although I've always loved acoustic guitar, I would never have thought that an entire album of songs with just guitar and voice would be sustainable. There is a brief trumpet solo at the end of "Broken Arrows", the last song on the CD but apart from that, it's as pure as the driven snow. It works on that level too.

Even his lyricism has a certain purity. Take the song "Lovestain" for instance: "You left a lovestain on my heart, And you left a bloodstain on the ground. But blood comes off easily". Now anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of crime scene investigation will know that blood is a demon to get off of any surface and therein lies the power of the lyric. The pain of love lost might eventually become bearable but it never really goes away? Not only that - those three short sentences are the entire song. And again, it works!

A beautiful collection of heart-wrenching and soul-stirring songs. Pure artistry at its best.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Jose Gonzalez is a class act. One of his greatest talents is his gift in combining a beautiful, tranquil voice with stimulating, rousing instrumentation. 'Veneer' reflects this perfect combination track after track, and brings the acoustic genre to a new level. It is the perfect soundtrack for buffering this crazy world we live in today. I was introduced to Jose via his work on the latest Zero 7 album. His tracks on that cd bring depth and substance. Likewise, 'Veneer' recharges the mind while soothing the soul...as in my favorite lyric: "Cast some light and you'll be alright".

I have seen Jose perform live twice and even had the opportunity to chat with him briefly. Watching him live is a treat. He becomes one with his guitar, as if he were born playing it. Jose Gonzalez is a rare talent, a humble performer, and a genuinely good guy. Get to know him...get 'Veneer'.
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Format: Audio CD
2005 continued to be a great year for folk. Sufjan Stevens released the best album in the genre and his best so far, and Swedish-born Argentinian, Jose Gonzalez, put out this fantastic record. "Veneer" will make you think of Nick Drake and Elliott Smith, no matter how hard you avoid it. But it's not forced or engineerd. It's natural. It's organic. And the result is brilliant. The album is simple, yet it gets to you in many ways. All the songs are the man and his guitar, with a voice so mellow that you won't have much to do against it.

Without a doubt, one of the best in 2005, and one of the best discoveries in recent times.
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