22, A Million was one of those revelatory albums for me. For year I had heard about how acclaimed Bon Iver was and I had never really thought of listening to him. Thanks to his 2016 album I have since become a huge fan of his – so I have been listening to all three of his albums a whole lot ever since. I love each one of these albums, although I do feel that he has gotten better and better with each album.
This leads me to the subject of today’s post: his debut album For Emma, Forever Ago. I am under no illusion that this album will probably be knocked out of the list pretty soon and will likely be replaced with Bon Iver, Bon Iver (even if just because of ‘Perth’ and ‘Holocene’), but I’ve spent a lot of hours on this album so it made sense to give it a cursory tick off now.
One thing I like about these earlier albums, when compared to 22, A Million, is Justin Vernon’s singing style. My love of Sufjan Stevens demonstrates my soft spot for a beautiful falsetto, and that’s what is delivered on this album. Especially in ‘re: Stacks’ (my favourite track) and opener ‘Flume’.
For Emma, Forever Ago is a real hint at the art pop that Bon Iver would later go on to produce. Here it’s a beautifully crafted piece of indie folk with a tender soul where you can really feel his pain. Later, he gains complexity without losing his ability to play with nuance.
So yes, it’s been a pleasure to listen to this album for the sake of this list. For now I need to get back to listening to older and safer albums so I am finally able to finish out this Top 250.