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Jose Gonzalez - An introduction

Jose Gonzalez

Feature by Jack Foley

EVERY once in a while an advert comes along that flashes past and leaves an indelible image in one’s brain – whether it be because of the images on the screen or the music that accompanies them.

The Sony Bravia ad is one such example. To simplify the matter, we’ll call it the ‘bouncing ball’ ad (filmed in San Francisco, with actual bouncing balls in real time we’ll have you know).

The accompanying soundtrack has the yearning vocal of one José González. Heartbeats (originally recorded by The Knife) opens with THAT mellifluously hypnotic guitar line, which then transforms into a transcendental track that reaffirms José as one of 2005’s breakthrough artists.

A single of the week favourite with Radio 1’s Zane Lowe Heartbeats deserves to be the breakthrough track that José’s talent deserves for this looks to be the time for this most distinctive of vocalists to be propelled into the mainstream.


Born and raised in Gothenburg, Sweden, of Argentine parents, 25 year-old José González is a rising star in Scandinavia, with the world at his feet.

A top ten chart artist and revered modern troubadour figure in Sweden, he is cherished equally by the musical cognoscenti, seriously besotted critics and hordes of regular Nordic punters.

José sings meticulously crafted songs that are mesmerizing, adroit and instantly classic-sounding, ushering the listener into a hushed, spell-like intimacy.

Using just his own dextrously finger-picked classical guitar and a captivating voice – part João Gilberto, part Paul Simon – José’s music is as economical as it is seductive; stark but effortlessly melodious songwriting whose confessional, gently provocative lyrics (all sung in perfect English) are, by turns, poignant, intriguing and life-affirming.

Recorded with the minimum of fuss at home on basic equipment, the 11 songs that grace Veneer, José’s bewitching debut album, blend sophisticated Latin passion with almost Bergman-esque moments of luminous stillness.

The heart-swelling Heartbeats, for instance, underscores lyrical epiphany with darting, quicksilver guitar figures – and has captured the public’s imagination following its use in that advert.


José’s eclectic influences include the late Elliot Smith, flamenco, Joy Division, and Brazilian bossa nova …and Veneer contains traces of all these, along with undeniable echoes of Will Oldham and Tim Buckley and the aforementioned Drake and Simon.

Yet, across an album’s-worth of intimate episodes José’s achievement is to nod to these antecedents while fashioning a sublimely emotional signature that is undeniably all his own – a unique and compelling new addition to the singer-songwriter firmament

José is keeping incredibly busy with his new band Junip, working with a premier league UK production duo (more news soon) and will headline a one-off London date in January.

Watch the video to Heartbeats