Bon Iver is Justin Vernon returning to former haunts with a new spirit. The reprises are there, solitude, quietude, hope and desperation compressed, but always a rhythm arises, a pulse vivified by gratitude and grace notes. The winter, the legend, has faded to just that, and this is the new momentary present.
“Bon Iver is often equated with just me,” says Vernon, “but you are who surrounds you, and for Bon Iver I wanted to invite those voices as musical catalysts.” Thus on the track “Beth/Rest” and throughout the album, we hear the pedal steel of Greg Leisz (Lucinda Williams, Bill Frisell), the uniquely layered low end of Colin Stetson’s (Tom Waits, Arcade Fire) saxophones, the riffing of Mike Lewis’ (Happy Apple, Andrew Bird) altos and tenors, and the lush horns of C.J. Camerieri (Rufus Wainwright, Sufjan Stevens). Bon Iver regulars Sean Carey, Mike Noyce and Matt McCaughan contributed vocals, drums and production, Rob Moose (Antony and the Johnsons, The National) helped with arranging and added strings, and fellow members of Volcano Choir, Jim Schoenecker and Tom Wincek provided processing.