ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Album Review: Vestiges & Claws

Updated on May 9, 2015

Album Rating

4 stars for Vestiges & Claws

Aural Organics

Perhaps the most striking component of Gonzalez’s performance—whether it’s solo, or with his band Junip—is just how natural his sound is. I don’t just mean that he sounds like a natural musician and vocalist (he does), but that his sound is based in the aural fabric of nature itself: the rustling of leaves, the babbling of brooks, and when his songs build a sense of urgency, even the wild, churning waters of a storm-rushed river. If you find yourself able to extract yourself from the trappings of modern life for the duration of the album and open yourself up to a sense of calm and the possibility of stillness in your thoughts, his gentle plucking, soft vocals, and naturalistic lyrics will bear you up on soft, cool breezes and carry you along over tree tops, through valleys, past the dens of lightly sleeping beasts.

If anything this pastoral sense is even more magnified—no, magnified is too strong and focused a word, let’s say given freer range to roam—on his latest offering, Vestiges & Claws (Imperial/Mute, 2015). Even the song titles bear this theory out: “Let it Carry You,” “The Forest,” “Leaf Off/The Cave.” Coming at the review process from the mindset of a writer of poetry and prose, the symbolism and imagery borne out by the song craft and performance can hardly be accidental, but it is never so deliberate or heavy-handed as to detract from the listening experience or seem overly pretentious, and while the album is certainly consistent in its beauty, Vestiges & Claws is never in danger of becoming boring, nor of getting mired in its own ambition, and this is in no small part due to the immense talent of Gonzalez. He seems to know just when to up the ante, to make things more interesting, to renew his grip on the listener’s attention, whether through deft shifts in tempo, or subtle layering of vocals and percussion that is so well woven into the mix that you don’t even notice its arrival or subsequent departure, but its importance to the overall sonic success of the album is undeniable.

Every Age (Official Video)

A Singer-Songwriter’s Singer-Songwriter

Although attention to detail, craft, and presentation are clearly strong suits, Gonzalez is essentially a singer-songwriter in the classic sense, and this is no insult, but rather a compliment of the highest order (these days there is a very fine line between the two). It is no new opinion to state that what were once widely known as the airwaves (certainly an antiquated notion amidst the demise of traditional radio) are filled past the point of bursting with singer-songwriters whose plentiful numbers have seen their stock drop to a penny a dozen. With his ear for melody and knack for poetic phrasing, I would have no qualms naming Gonzalez in the same breath as legends such as Paul Simon and Leonard Cohen, or contemporary greats such as Bill Callahan, Damien Jurado, and the late Jason Molina.

Vestiges & Claws is a great album, a worthy addition to anyone’s collection, and it will no doubt find its way into the upper echelons of countless end-of-the-year best-of lists.

Top 5 Tracks:

  1. With the Ink of a Ghost
  2. Stories We Build, Stories We Tell
  3. The Forest
  4. Every Age
  5. Open Book

Further Listening:

If you like Vestiges & Claws, you may be interested in these fine albums:

  • Fields, Junip (2010)
  • Declaration of Dependence, Kings of Convenience (2009)
  • Admiral Fell Promises, Sun Kil Moon (2010)
  • Maraqopa, Damien Jurado (2012)

Want to Know More?

Purchase Vestiges & Claws Here:

© 2015 Jared Duran


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)