Bon Iver set for 2011 UK tour
The collaboration-friendly indie-folk icon is still strongest on his own two feet
‘Profit, profit, nigga I got it, everybody know I’m a motherfucking monster.’ Of all that Justin ‘Bon Iver’ Vernon might have done next following the huge critical acclaim and popular devotion for his exquisite 2008 debut album For Emma, Forever Ago, lending his vaporous voice to a track featuring Kanye West rapping thusly must have been the last thing he or anyone else expected. But maybe his contribution to two tracks on West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy isn’t entirely as improbable as it seems. Both unpredictable and in-demand leading lights of their respective genres, they share some things in common – if also starkly contrasting inclinations towards trumpeting their own successes.
Vernon – still a humble resident of his native Eau Claire, Wisconsin – has practically invented his own niche of indie-folk. Following the much-storied genesis of his debut alone in a remote countryside cabin where he’d retreated, wounded by break-ups musical and romantic, every singer-songwriter sporting a flannel shirt and an acoustic guitar – from Benjamin Francis Leftwich to James Vincent McMorrow – seems to arrive trailing a biog about escaping to nature and solitude to focus their artistic vision. The Bon Iver story has skipped on several chapters from that media-friendly arrival, to collaborations with The National, St Vincent, James Blake and Gayngs among many others (he’s also been asked to collaborate by Neil Young), and a self-titled second album that sees him spread his wings in style, emotion and sound (ten additional players contributed in all), from the post-rock dynamics of ‘Perth’ to playful 80s MOR homage ‘Beth/Rest’.
And yet the fundamental allure of Vernon’s music remains steady: a shiver-inducing approach to melody and a soulful voice that can’t help but convey almost supernatural beauty and sadness. As he prepares to play sold-out concert halls, he’s on a precipitous rise. Or to quote that Kanye track again, he’s ‘about to take it to the next level, bitch’.
Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Sat 22 Oct.