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.