Tonight Swedish singer and guitarist Jose Gonzalez plays two shows at the Lakeshore Theater, and it’s probably safe to expect him to sound very much like he did on his second album, last fall’s In Our Nature (Mute). The comparisons to Nick Drake make some sense, but though Gonzalez is a skilled acoustic fingerpicker and hypnotizing singer, he seems sadly rigid in other respects.
What I’m talking about his how hard the surfaces of his tunes are–they don’t leave much room for spontaneity–and how unyielding and inflexible his lyrics often seem. Though I like the percussive quality he gets from his nylon strings, the arpeggios he hammers out cycle so metronomically that they sound like the synth patterns on a techno record transposed to acoustic guitar. And on just about every tune from In Our Nature, save for a cover of Massive Attack’s “Teardrop,” he comes off like a heavy-handed self-appointed prophet, spitting out criticism and counsel to an assortment of friends and lovers and (I guess) mankind in general. I actually like the album more than my criticisms probably suggest–Gonzalez seems pretty incomplete, it’s true, but I’m optimistic that he’ll eventually find a way to address that.
He’s traveling with percussionist Erik Bodin and vocalist Yukimi Nagamo–ghostly presences on the new record–who will join him for part of each show. Mia Doi Todd opens.
Alvin Fielder Trio, A Measure of Vision (Clean Feed)
Abram Wilson, Ride! Ferris Wheel to the Modern Day Delta (Dune)
Ge Gan-ru, Lost Style (New Albion)
Abyssinians, Satta Massagana (Deluxe Edition) (Heartbeat)
Various Artists, From the Kitchen Archives no. 4: Composers Inside Electronics (Orange Mountain Music)