José González is, in his deeply patient way, calling all the shots. The Swedish-Argentine indie-folk bard’s new album Vestiges & Claws, his first solo LP since 2007′s painterly In Our Nature, is also his first containing only original material. And once again he’s handling the production duties himself.
Vestiges & Claws is due out on February 17 via Mute, the label announced today. González recorded it at his Gothenburg home as well as in the city’s Svenska Grammofonstudion. The songs came together over a number of years, with cited influences including “sprawling ’70s Brazilian productions, American folk rock and West African desert blues.”
González, explaining his preference for a bit of distortion, said in a statement that rather than a “modern crisp sound” he prefers to “aim somewhere between Shuggie Otis and Simon & Garfunkel.” He suggested the new LP would be less minimalistic than In Our Nature or its predecessor, Veneer (released in 2003 in Sweden but not until 2005 elsewhere), invoking “added guitars and a more beat-like percussion … with more backing vocals.” Lyrically, González described the album as “clearer” and “less self-pitying.”
Vestiges & Claws is hardly the only new material from González in the past seven years. His version of Arthur Russell‘s “This Is How We Walk on the Moon” appears on this month’s benefit compilation Master Mix: Red Hot + Arthur Russell. He featured prominently a year ago on the soundtrack for Ben Stiller’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, landing on the Oscars’ Best Song longlist for his version of Ryan Adams-written “Stay Alive.” Meanwhile, González’s band Junip has released two albums, including last year’s Junip.
González has identified a “common thread” across Vestiges & Claws: “The zoomed out eye on humanity on a small pale blue dot in a cold, sparse and unfriendly space,” he said in the statement. “The amazing fact that we are here at all, an aim to encourage us to understand ourselves and to make the best of the one life we know we have — after birth and before death.”
You can pre-order Vestiges & Claws on iTunes and check out a 30-second trailer below. Scroll down for the cover art and tracklist.
Vestiges & Claws (February 17, Mute)
1. With the Ink of a Ghost
2. Let It Carry You
3. Stories We Build, Stories We Tell
4. The Forest
5. Leap Off / The Cave
6. Every Age
7. What Will
10. Open Book