José González, In Our Nature (Mute Records, 2007)

A Swede of Argentinian descent, José González first came to my attention when he contributed a few songs to Zero 7's 2006 album called The Garden. His own music is considerably less electronic, however. Gonzalez deftly blends standard folk guitar styles with those of South America, and usually doesn't require more than some light percussion for accompaniment. Many of the songs on his second album In Our Nature are thematically linked, revolving around warfare and the need for humanity to resist its darkest impulses.

González may lack a broad vocal range, but he knows how to work around his limitations. For one thing, he writes melodies that affect the listener without making too many demands on his voice. It also helps that he is a superb guitar player. His rhythmic style of fingerpicking gives his songs some lift and energy even without much instrumental backing. The best example of his playing is the song "Killing for Love.". This song also includes the album's best lyric -- "You've got a heart filled with passion; will you let it burn for hate or compassion?" Another revelation on In Our Nature is a cover of the song "Teardrop" by the electronica group Massive Attack. I definitely need to find the original now.

In Our Nature
is a solid effort from a performer with a considerable amount of promise. If you're interested in acoustic music with a bit of a South American flavor, you'll find José González much to your liking.

Overall grade: A-

reviewed by Scott

The video for "Killing for Love"

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