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For Emma Forever Ago CD

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Image of album by Bon Iver


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"Beth/Rest" is the fourth single from the Grammy Award winning Bon Iver, Bon Iver. The b-side is an alternate performance of Beth/Rest recorded at Rare Book Room.

Bon Iver, Bon Iver was recorded and mixed at April Base Studios, a remodeled veterinarian's clinic located in rural Fall Creek, Wisconsin. The main recording space is constructed over a defunct indoor pool ... Read more in Amazon's Bon Iver Store

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Product details

  • Audio CD (24 Mar. 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: 4AD
  • ASIN: B00166QJN4
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (131 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,862 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Flume
2. Lump Sum
3. Skinny Love
4. The Wolves (Act I and II)
5. Blindsided
6. Creature Fear
7. Team
8. For Emma
9. re:stacks

Product Description

Product Description

Critically acclaimed debut album by the indie folk group, fronted by singer-songwriter Justin Vernon.


It's hard to believe that For Emma, Forever Ago is the work of one man. But when Justin Vernon's old band split he hauled himself (and presumably plenty of instruments and recording equipment) to his dad's hunting cabin in the woods of Wisconsin for the coldest season and worked through his issues in musical form. (The name comes from the French for "good winter"--"bon hiver"). By the start of the spring thaw he had recorded the bulk of this stunning debut, originally self-issued to acclaim last year in the USA and now picked up by 4AD for a British release. Vernon's voice grabs the ear from the start, switching easily into a smooth falsetto (and unusually for a white indie lad, without the slightest intent of emulating Prince). The formula is straightforward. He layers his vocal harmonies, while a gently strummed acoustic rhythm guitar just about holds the centre. All else from horns to slide guitar is mere detail. The quality is rough and ready but the effect is strangely similar though to the slick vocal confections of European women like Bjork and Camille, all mystery and distance. It's the musical equivalent of reading someone else's diary. In code. Through a dirty window. Enigmatic songs like the elegantly stumbling "Creature Fear" with its rowdy horn parts, the resolute opener "Flume" and the evanescent "Team" are just so pretty they seem to glide by without leaving a mark in the snow. Vernon is apparently a straightforward and friendly guy, but For Emma, Forever Ago genuinely sounds like something from a far off place. --Steve Jelbert

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Glover on 5 Jan. 2009
Format: MP3 Download
I was first introduced to Bon Iver's music through a cover of "Skinny Love" that a mate of mine was playing at a gig. Although I didn't catch the whole song, even just a snippet of it was enough to make me want to get into this stuff - I was blown away by the power and depth of the songwriting, as well as the beautifully honest lyrics. And when I came to buying the album, I was far from disappointed - that particular song is still a stand-out, but the rest of the album is just as sublime.

Lyrically, "For Emma, Forever Ago" could be read as one long narrative, brimming with honesty, jealousy, guilt, love, loss, pain and a sense of loneliness which can only have come from the circumstances in which it was recorded - Justin Vernon, the mastermind behind the three-piece (though Vernon regularly plays solo as well), wrote and recorded practically the entire album with aged recording gear and a few microphones during 3 months spent absolutely alone in his father's hunting lodge in the woods of Wisconsin, USA. This time was originally going to be used exclusively for 'soul searching' and recovery from sickness and breakups (from both his band and girlfriend), though luckily for us it seems that the only way he was able to effectively channel his emotions was through songwriting and recording.

Even right from delicate opener "Flume," it is obvious that there has been no holding back in the writing of these songs - though often cryptic, there is no doubt that these lyrics are pure, unspoilt poetry - "Only love is all maroon / Lapping lakes like leery loons / Leaving rope burns - reddish ruse" may not be the most accessible refrain, but that is just not what this record is about. There is no shortage of pain here - "Now all your love is wasted / And who the hell was I?
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38 of 43 people found the following review helpful By K. Nicholls on 14 May 2009
Format: Audio CD
Like Dylan, Justin Vernon aka Bon Iver (it's a one-man show) understands that simple, acoustic-led arrangements married with lyrical depth can really pack a punch. Written during a self-imposed period of isolation in the Wisconsin woods after the break-up with his girlfriend and a serious illness, For Emma, Forever Ago is an achingly elegiac album and each track is an emotionally-charged vignette. Listen to Skinny Love for a sample of Vernon's musings on the loneliness of losing love or The Wolves (Act 1 and II) for a taste of accusatory hurt: `someday my pain will mark you. Harness your blame'. Despite its soul-baring, For Emma... is a surprisingly uplifting journey and a reminder of the beauty one man and his guitar can create.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Demob Happy on 27 May 2008
Format: Audio CD
It would be easy to dismiss the history behind the recording of For Emma, Forever Ago as mere press release hype. Yes, Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver) recorded this album recovering from some deep personal disappointments in an isolated log cabin over one bitter Wisconsin winter - but what does the music sound like? I'm not really interested in whether a singer-songwriter's music can be framed as `authentic' - only in whether I find it engaging or not. Luckily, For Emma, Forever Ago is every bit as atmospheric, soulful and intimate as the hype would have you believe, but not nearly as bleak as you might expect.

For all it's sparse acoustics - the album was carefully layered by Vernon on a four-track - For Emma, Forever Ago is oddly uplifting, evoking a sense of resurrection or salvation in the beauty of musical expression. Love, loss and loneliness are all lyrical threads, but this is not a dispiriting listen. Some lo-fi sonic embellishment gives Vernon's raw folk a sense space and depth. These subtle, icy electronics - which remind me in texture of some of Godspeed's ambient passages - levitate this beyond conventional singer-songwriter territory. Moreover, the vocals - a soulful falsetto that recalls Lambchop's Kurt Wagner or My Morning Jacket's Jim James - are multi-tracked, giving a sense of ghosly communion rather than isolation. Particularly on the opening two tracks, Vernon's experimentation with layered harmonies acquires a celestial ambience. A wintery beauty, for fans of Micah P Hinson and the Gospel of Progress, Iron & Wine, Lambchop and My Morning Jacket.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Red on Black TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 8 Nov. 2008
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
For Emma just creeps up on you and invades your existence but in the most wondrous way. The only album which has impacted on me in a similar fashion is Jeff Buckley's "Grace". Its much more than a simple singer songwriter effort, it points in new directions. I had an awful long drive home one evening in the pitch darkness and listened to it properly. It's like having your best in friend in the car with you. When it finished I just put it back on again and enjoy. Very wintry, frosty, isolated, atmospheric and lovely. Creature Fear and Lump Sum are brilliant. While Blindsided and Wolves would grace any great acoustic album. Indeed its distant cousin is probably Will Oldham (Bonnie "Prince" Billy's) "Master and Everyone" which is well worth checking out as one of the greatest Americana albums of recent years. Finally on "For Emma" there is "Re. Stacks" - the song of the year. Love the verse that goes -

"There's a black crow sitting across from me; his wiry legs are crossed
And he's dangling my keys he even fakes a toss
Whatever could it be
That has brought me to this loss?"

Quite where Justin Vernon goes next I don't know; but I do care a lot.
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