Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Justin Vernon's Natural Voice Rings True on 'Grownass Man'

Based on the reviews, Justin Vernon, of Bon-Iver fame, disappointed the indie establishment with Grownass Man, the debut from his side project; blues/rock trio, The Shouting Matches.

It has almost none of the Bon-Iver signatures that made him famous. Instead, Grownass Manfeatures 10 songs ranging from soul, to fuzzed-out blues guitar solos, to Taj Majal-esque clawhammer southern flavor, and, yes, even a few falsettos, like on the love ballad "I Need A Change" that Vernon delivers with passion and truth.

It's a cohesive blend of ear-pleasing songs on an album that marks a turning point in Vernon's career; an axis that sees Vernon having fun and letting his natural voice ring.

To write this off as an "insincere effort" and "goofing off" is not only unfair to the artists who, obvious in the musicianship, took great pride in the songs; it makes you look biased towards commercial indie music, and thus removes your credibility as a journalist.

We saw Vernon's true character come out during his Grammy speech, and we hear his true voice again with "Grownass Man." No, the album is not a "statement" like the speech was, but it does say one thing: Justin Vernon doesn't have to bend a knee to any label to find fame and happiness.

So go ahead and write this album off, but I wouldn't rush to judgement. Grownass Man has all the makings of a classic and will earn him huge props from music fans.

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