Any seasoned folk listener can identify how Bon Iver has designated themselves as one of the more prominent folk bands in the industry. Their unique, light sound is accessible to a wide variety of listeners, making Bon Iver popular among many generations. One doesn’t have to be a diehard fan to enjoy famous tunes such as “Skinny Love” and “Roslyn.”
Bon Iver’s debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago, is truly what thrust them into the indie-folk scene. The album was primarily the work of singer-songwriter Justin Vernon, who wrote and produced it during a three month isolation in a cabin in Wisconsin. Vernon started with wordless melodies that he later added words to, thus creating an album full of imagery and metaphorical questions. Its light acoustic strums and subtle horns drive the album’s songs into an eerie place of listening as the lyrics become only a supplemental background.
The album exudes feelings of fleeting memories and lost love as Vernon delivers an almost-spiritual performance. Though it was released in the summer of 2007, its primarily acoustic tone makes it a fall staple. Here are the best fall tracks on For Emma, Forever Ago:
Like many of the songs on this album, “Flume” tells a story of painful, lost love. Vernon’s falsetto, which is featured throughout most of the album, carries the song and is accompanied by quivering trills of acoustic guitar.
Although the song is a full 3 minutes and 39 seconds long, a bulk of it is taken up by instrumental interludes. It makes the song haunting and mysterious, which is then emphasized by Vernon’s voice. Vernon lets his inhibitions go and exploits his loneliness and isolation in “Flume.”
As the sun sets on a brisk fall day, the song fades out into an eerie end with vocalized chants in the background. It’s a great, but also somewhat unsettling, fall tune.
Carried by horns and soft guitar strums, “For Emma” talks about the trials and hardships of love.
It’s another song on For Emma, Forever Ago that features mostly instrumentals, with ambiguous lyrics that comprise only some of the entire tune. This song can be considered the album’s title track and carries with it the overarching concept of the album. “For Emma” is a perfect song to watch a blistering red and orange fall sunset with full sounds of horn and guitar.
As the last song on For Emma, Forever Ago, “Re: Stacks” serves as the album’s longest and most lyrical.
The song’s lyrics paint an imagery in the listener’s mind with lines like, “I’ve been twisting to the sun / I need to replace / And the fountain in the front yard is rusted out / All my love was in a frozen ground.”
Vernon’s lyrics are usually vague and he creates metaphors that cause the listener to think about their own life through his own abandonment. His ability to set up a scene in his songs creates an autumnal atmosphere.
As the leaves dwindle off the trees and settle on the cold, hard ground, Bon Iver’s songs make for a perfect background as the season progresses.