February in West Texas. The light low and the days still warm and sweet. The air bright with red-tailed hawk and blue bunting, with the shink and rattle of the green jay. On a pecan ranch east of El Paso, its orchards running down to the Mexican border and the waters of the Rio Grande, a thrum of activity—song, saxophone, dancers, drums, guitar, synths; the sound of something taking shape. Here, 1500 miles from Wisconsin, from where this all began, a new season.
When Bon Iver released For Emma, Forever Ago in early 2008 it introduced Justin Vernon as one of the most gifted songwriters of his generation and revealed a sound that was distinct—tethered to time and to place, to a season of contemplation and the crisp, heart-strung isolation of a northern Winter. Its successor, the self-titled Bon Iver, Bon Iver, brought something more frenetic, the rise and whirr of burgeoning Spring, of hope and sap and movement. In 2016’s 22, A Million, Vernon came to see something different again: “it was,” he says, “our crazy energy Summer record.”
The band’s fourth album, i,i, completes this cycle: a Fall record, Vernon says, autumn-coloured, ruminative, steeped.
“It feels very much like the most adult record, the most complete,” says Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon. “It feels like when you get through all this Life , when the sun starts to set, and what happens is you start gaining perspective. And then you can put that perspective into more honest, generous work.”