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4.3 out of 5 stars144
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 25 April 2009
I held off buying this because there was so much 'hype' about it, more often than not the hype is rarely accurate. But I finally parted with my money to sample some Bon Iver.
The hype, this time, as far as I'm concerned is justified. On the first listen I nearly cried (no mean feat, I don't shed tears for silly things like songs normally!) and it was simply because of the sounds; his voice, the instruments and although there's a melancholic atmosphere to the album, there's also a tinge of 'innocence' and hope, a feeling that his voice is 'cradling' you. They are the most relaxing sounds I've heard in a long time (and I don't 'relax' easily).
If you like Fleet Foxes and Sigur Ros, you'll surely love this.
I won't go 'harping' on about his lyrics, because I'm far from a poet.
The best music, albums or songs are those which shake your emotions, and this one certainly does.
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on 17 July 2008
I'd be the first to agree that what critics rave about will often mean nothing to 'ordinary fans' and that hyped products (book, music, film, whatever) are often disappointingly ordinary. Good but not that good. It's also clear that many have fallen for the story of how this CD came to be made as much as for the music itself.

With all that said, I have to confess that I've fallen in love with 'For Emma, forever ago'. And when you've been buying recorded music for 35 years, that's an increasingly rare way to feel. So forget the hype and the back-story. This is simply a great record. Beautiful sound textures belie the limited instrumental palate used. Intriguing and evocative lyrics sung in a beguiling, with echoes of Neil Young and Sam Beam and (at least on 'Skinny Love') Gary Clark.

Buy it. Now.
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on 27 February 2009
Sparse instrumentation, melodies created from pure musical craftsmanship. The silence between the notes occasionally splayed with creaking and shuffled footsteps. Authentic squeaks and scrapes abound as the guitar is flexed and put through it's steps.
This is a great album. Subtle and understated. Obscure lyrics but also personal ones. Justin Vernon (Bon Iver's real name) lets us into his heartbreak and desolation but does not preach. The music is bleak, hopeful and warm all at the same time. His voice is raw and frayed but also stunningly angelic when he reaches falsetto. People can be put off by it's simplicity. There's no glossed over production and the guitar is played in a conventional, familiar bare-bones style. Nine tracks that live and breathe amongst the silence.
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on 25 September 2009
When i first listened to this record, i could imagine being holed up in the cabin they recorded it in, thick, deep, slient snow outside.

The album moves along in a beautiful, graceful manner that somehow acknowledges the stillness of the winter outside and also the human observance of it - the act of being inside looking out.

It is reminiscent of the Fleet Foxes in some of its folk sounds and Sigur Ros came to mind for the sense of the circumspection of landscape. The film 'Into the Wild' also comes to mind for the sense of isolation within the vastness of nature.

It's a beautiful, peaceful record, within a context that acknowledges that not everything is. It stands aside and says, despite all the world is, we can yet chisel out and burrow down into small places of quiet.
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on 4 May 2010
When I first downloaded this I have to confess I was not sure what all the fuss was about. However on further listens this album gradually gives up its treasures, unleashing an hypnotic spell.

That this music was born, according to Bon Iver, in isolation makes it even more compelling.

I particularly like the cover which as far as I can see, shows a window filled with frost and trees just visible outside.

In terms of the working concept (to retreat to a cabin in the woods and live an austere and chaste life for a few months) I am extremely envious. Was this a life changing experience?. Or maybe this is a regular thing for him? Who knows.

For those such as myself caught up in the rat race and the joys of the daily gind at the office it is certainly appealing...
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on 10 February 2010
The sort of album that deserves to be appreciated by lying back and listening, allowing the surreal lyrics and ethereal harmonies run over your body and evoke the solitude and melancholy that inspired this album - Vernon independently wrote and recorded every one of these tracks in his parents' hunting cabin in Wisconsin (as the album states). Sung almost entirely in a strained falsetto, there is a sense of pain and struggle embedded into the simple beauty of 'Flume' and 'Skinny Love', and the driving rhythms of 'Re:Stacks' and 'For Emma' have the force to keep a foot tapping but never overpower. Moments of brass are, rather than majestic and regal, somehow subtly slotted into this raw and natural piece of work.
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on 17 July 2011
"You Either Love It, Or Hate It" - that is the only way to describe this album.

While Bon Iver's debut number gained a huge amount of positive press - there is an awful amount of overhyped publicity surrounding this record. I strongly recommend you listen to some track samples on iTunes or Youtube, etc to get a taste of Bon Iver's style and sound.

Sometimes this album is the one thing I want to listen to all evening.
Other times it sits, forlorn, in the back of my CD drawer.

But for all this, in my opinion, 'For Emma, Forever Ago' is a wonderful piece of calm, acoustic folk writing - something which not everyone will enjoy (or agree with).

RECAP: Sample before you buy!
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on 11 February 2013
Love a bit of Bon Iver. Such heart aching emotion is held within this music, you get a sense of it being written in isolation. It is something which when you are in the mood for it really manages to hit the spot, and makes you feel like you don't need anything else. As long as you have this music to keep you company, you'll be alright. I also think the highly personal nature of the album is something which translates well across to the vinyl format. My delivery was prompt, within a week or so I think and it arrived in immaculate condition, still in its plastic. Cannot think of a signle problem I have had with it! Even the artwork matches the album perfectly.
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on 17 January 2010
Gorgeous album. So heartfelt. It does sound like it was made in a cabin in the woods, whilst contemplating everything that's important to you, and translating that into music. It makes me think of my girlfriend who i adore, it is a love album essentially, a heartbreak album, and it should be melancholic but it's so not. It gives me goosebumps. It is uplifting and positive. The redemptive power of love perhaps. Lost or found. Life is all about connections. When I listen to this it's like it's always been there somewhere. Im thinking where have you been you dancer. Love it :)
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on 27 May 2008
The initial stories about a lovelorn loner shacking up in a log cabin eating freshly shot deer sounded faintly ridiculous. The music that has come from this experience of Justin Vernon is, however, sublime.

His voice is high and full of deep soulful yearning that is uplifting, never mawkish. The harmonies are inspired. The lyrics are evocative and poetic, without a single jarring image. And the tunes! With every listening they get stronger and stronger. Together, each song has a feel that is both warm and intimate. Yesterday my favourite song was Flume. Today it's Creature Fear, or maybe Re-Stacks... They're all wonderful!

I saw Bon Iver at the Great Escape Festival in Brighton. They went on early evening, yet the place was packed thanks to the buzz created by the recent favourable reviews. Live, they ripped into the songs, adding real muscle to the gentler recorded versions. We all sang along to Wolves II - 'What might have been lost...' Then they did an unplugged Skinny Love in amongst the audience. It was one of the best concerts I've ever witnessed.

Buy the album. Catch them live. You won't be disappointed - unless you have no soul.
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