Under Review: Junip – Fields

Ah, autumn: perhaps the best musical season of them all.  The bands who make calm and classy music live for this time of year (well, a week or so from now).  Swedish guitarist Jose Gonzales has built an impressive career around hushed arrangements and ethereal melodies.  Though he was already an established solo performer, Gonzales spent some time in 2005 with Junip, a trio he formed with some friends in the late 1990s that produced a single EP before disbanding.  In a characteristically humble manner, Junip reformed earlier this year and released another EP, Rope And Summit, and announced that a full length would be along shortly.  Fields could not have come at a better suited time.  “Rope And Summit” appears here again, and the brisk shuffle of “Howl” suggests some stronger rhythms than anything in Gonzales’ pensive catalogue.  Since Gonzales’ voice is such a central part of any project he participates in, it’s no surprise that he dominates Fields.  “Without You” and the groovy “Sweet And Bitter” put his trademark intonations to terrific use.  As far as hooks go, “Always” and “Don’t Let It Pass” wind themselves around some pretty catchy choruses.  There’s a slight R&B influence on those two songs as well, showing that this is more than just a full-band retread of Veneer or In Our Nature.  Gonzales’ wide musical interests don’t always come through on his own albums, but Junip allows him to try out some things he’s clearly had on his mind for the past few years.  World music, bluegrass, electronica and other genres make appearances on Fields, often within the same song.  It could be because the group was together before Gonzales made a name for himself, but Junip is refreshing in that, while it’s definitely recognizable as being Jose Gonzales’ band, this is far from being a vanity project.

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~ by E. on September 17, 2010.

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