I’m sure you’re familiar with Justin Vernon. If you don’t know the name, you likely know him thanks to his Grammy award-winning band, Bon Iver. The guy’s a tremendous songwriter. One of his (many) groups is called Volcano Choir, and Repave, their new album, came out just over a week ago. Needless to say, it’s excellent.
While Justin is known for his songwriting abilities, unlike Bon Iver, he doesn’t write any of the instrumental parts for Volcano Choir. He relegates himself to only singing. So the long and short of this is simple: Justin Vernon is a beautiful singer and he sounds great on Volcano Choir, but it’s nothing like Bon Iver.
This isn’t Justin Vernon the singer-songwriter. This is Justin Vernon the bandmate, leading a group of great musicians and songwriters. Many of you might prefer it to Bon Iver. The album’s actually very, very good. Tiderays is a swell opener. The synthesized keyboard noises beneath the guitar and Vernon’s voice make it sound like the ocean tide slowly coming in. I love Acetate, with its catchy vocal work and group effort across the song making it a standout. If you were to ask me what the standout track was, I’d probably tell you to give Alaskans a shout. It’s not the title track, but it uses the album’s title in its chorus.
The whole album is great, start to finish, but that’s how it really needs to be heard: from start to finish, with headphones on, in a dark room and no distractions. If you’re a fan of Vernon’s voice and are interested in the other work he’s doing, give this one a shot this week. It’s great to hear how he’s developing as an artist.