In the midst of his U.S. tour, multi-faceted artist and singer Justin Vernon pulled a new song out of his hat. Touring with his band Bon Iver, which have been playing off of their new album “22, A Million,” the songwriter announced to the crowd at The National in Richmond, Virginia that he wanted to play a new song:
“It’s new, and it’s not even quite done, but I just want to play it for ya’ll.”
Vernon soon launched into the new song, without the aid his usual group of backing musicians. With just the twinkle of a synthetic piano sound, the singer eased into the intimate, expressive track. Instead of his usual angelic falsetto, Vernon favored an emotional, almost-yelling style of singing, seeming to flood with emotion as he spouted “I can hear, I can hear, I can hear, I can hear crying” over and over.
Vernon’s music feels like it’s still following similar threads from his last few albums. He is continuing to explore his own vision of the heartland rock and adult-oriented sounds of artists like Bonnie Raitt and Bruce Hornsby that were popular in the late 80s and early 90s, incorporating experimental electronics into the mix in the process. He cemented these influences when he performed a cover of “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” a song that Raitt made famous. Vernon’s version simmers with the pain of unrequited love, much like the original.
With his last two albums as Bon Iver – “Bon Iver, Bon Iver” and “22, A Million” – the artist has turned from an introspective song stylist to a world megastar, and the newfound fame has given him free reign to do exactly what he wants. It will be interesting to see what direction his music will take. Fame, as many other artists have found, can either be an incredible opportunity to explore new avenues or a stumbling block of pandering to the masses. Bands like Radiohead have handled it magnificently. We will see about Bon Iver.
January will find Bon Iver playing four completely sold out dates in Texas followed by a quick jaunt in Mexico. You can also find the band in residency at the Eventim Apollo in London this Winter. Every residency show is already completely sold out.
“22, A Million” is out now, and is required listening for Bon Iver.
Here are the rest of Bon Iver’s U.S. dates in Texas: