Psychologist John Haidt developed the behavioral model of the "Rider and the Elephant" to showcase how humans have two different sides of thinking: the rider being more analytical using its rationale; and the elephant which leans more on emotions and feeling to make choices. Singer/songwriter José González took a little inspiration from that analogy on his fourth album, in both feeling and the cover art's message. In the middle of the album cover is an elephant with a blackbird riding its back, glowing eyes emerging from the dark as they reside in this moving and beautiful valley of Earth, drawn by his partner Hannele Fernström.
Titled "Local Valley," last fall's release marks González' fourth solo album—his first in six years and fourth in a span of 18. On the 13 tracks González finds himself reckoning with the times and looking at a wider scope. "It's more outward looking than my earlier works, but no less personal. On the contrary, I feel more comfortable than ever saying that this album reflects me and my thoughts right now," he says.
- Credit Hannele Fernström
- The dreamy folk-rock stylings on González' latest album will pull you right in.
Known internationally for selling out shows all over the world due to his intricate and beautifully crafted acoustic works, you may even know his style from movies such as, "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" or his song "Teardrop" that played in "The Last Dance" documentary series about Michael Jordan.
Central Oregon will play host to González this weekend at the Tower Theatre, which is honestly a huge treat for the community. Learn more about González below in this Artist Fact Sheet.
Where he's from: González was born in Gothenburg, Sweden, a year after his parents fled Argentina following the 1976 Argentine coup d'état. Before releasing solo material, González was busy playing in a variety of hardcore and alternative bands, like Back Against The Wall and most notably, Junip, to which he still takes part in today. Prior to going solo González was studying to get his Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of Gothenburg, the same subject his mother was studying before they migrated to Sweden. But after he started releasing songs the attention he received caused González to switch his focus from biochemistry to music.
What's to like: From his rhythmic and groovy spins on folk music that take inspiration from dancehall and other genres alike, to his warm and inviting tone, González is able to say a lot in the spaces that music fills. He has that special ability to translate emotion into sound, which is the most pure form of music and song. Even with a softer voice, you can really feel that what González is saying is important. He grabs your attention and pulls you in deep. González oftentimes tackles important worldly subjects in a unique way that isn't told in the typical political sense we see used today. He's also an excellent fingerpicker, with highlights of skill filling his discography.
Songs to start with: "Head On" (one of my favorites on the new album), "Heartbeats," "Leaf Off / The Cave," "Swing"
For fans of: Iron & Wine, Bon Iver, Sufjan Stevens, Novo Amor
Random Internet Dig Fact: Last year, González told Paste Magazine that while working out he counts reps in Spanish, but speaks to his kids in Swedish, joking that it's like "programming the reptile brain." Spanish was his first language growing up, and until this point in his career González only wrote songs in English. But "Local Valley" marks the first time that each of his three languages will be used—Swedish, Spanish and English.
José González with Special Guest Jess Williamson
Sat., March 12, 7pm
835 NW Wall St., Bend