If indie folk had to be defined by one song and one song only, José González's cover of "Heartbeats" (originally a mediumistic, Björk-like romp by Swedish duo The Knife) would be a formidable choice to summarize the warm, sleepy nature of the genre. Direct, calm, and romantically flourished, González's doubled voice blends perfectly with his thoughtful guitar playing. Since then, González has continued that tradition, releasing three meditatively simple albums that further established him as a force of soporific folk.
After releasing a trio of celebrated albums in the mid-2000s, José Gonzalez's musical output became sparser. Six years after 2015's Vestiges & Claws, the Swedish singer-songwriter returns with a new batch of calm, unhurried folk that resonates with a timeless quality like the changing of seasons. This time, his absence was due to him becoming a father and wanting to spend more time with his two kids.
Opener "El Invento" is the first song González has recorded in Spanish, an homage to the native tongue of his Argentinian heritage, and a positive lesson in catharsis. Similar vibes are heard on "Visions" and the somewhat gentler "Horizons", proving that you don't always need to be flamboyant to attract attention. "Lilla G", written for his daughter, is reminiscent of Paul Simon , with other influences on Local Valley found equally close to home for González.
José González never sounds like he's in a hurry. He takes his sweet time both in song and in life: The gap between the Swedish songwriter's third solo album, 2015's Vestiges & Claws, and fourth, Local Valley, was long enough to encompass the entirety of Trump's presidency, several Lorde rebrands, and some 13 King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard albums. Empires rise and fall; celebrity marriages come and go.
Few people have managed to become quite so celebrated worldwide quite as quietly as José González has. The singer, songwriter, and guitarist has released his long-awaited fourth album 'Local Valley' after a six year wait, serving as a reminder that you don't have to be loud to be heard. While he's still best known for his cover of The Knife's 'Heartbeats', the indie-folk star has kept his distinctive sound and provides hopefulness with his new project.