José González's second album, In Our Nature, is released tomorrow (10/9). He's best known for his collaboration work with Zero 7 and his cover of The Knife - Heartbeats which was featured in a Sony Bravia commercial.
Names like Elliott Smith, Nick Drake, and Tim Buckley are often used together, not necessarily to describe one exact sonic style of singer, but more as incredibly passionate verbs, to identify the strong emotions evoked when listening to these late legends' sparse melodies. Swedish-based Argentinian musician José González is likely to hear those classic names a lot in his future. González received critical underground love from his 2003 debut disc Veneer, but garnered more widespread attention as a guest vocalist for downtempo group Zero 7. The singer's gentle vocals and Spanish-meets-classical guitar style make a quietly compelling match, especially so on his sophomore CD In Our Nature, easily the best work--either as a solo or contributing vocalist--that he has released to date. The track that may well attract the most new eardrums is his sparse, whisper-soft cover of Massive Attack's "Teardrop" (a.k.a., the theme song to the TV show House), but many of his own tunes are equally endearing. War and world leaders were clearly on his mind when writing this disc, from opener "How Low"--in which González sings "Invasion after invasion/This means war/Someday you'll be up to your knees/in the shit you seek"--to the flamenco-affected track, "Killing for Love." All of these poignant--and at times pointed--lyrics are surrounded in lush, yet sparse melodies that make for music that is truly praise-worthy, bordering on timeless. --Denise Sheppard