I remember over the years many people who have commented about listening to downbeat music, asking why you’d want to. Which I guess I understand, I mean it’s a valid question, why would you want to listen to something that isn’t exactly going to put you in the mood to be a little ray of sunshine. But that’s not the point really, music inhabits so many different areas of the emotional spectrum, it has a place everywhere. It has power to make you feel various things and reflecting from the bad as well as the good can make great music. It excels when it hits an emotional bullseye whether that is a good or bad emotion. If you only want to listen to cheerful upbeat music you’re really missing out, you’ll probably end up a bit mental as well.
Which brings me onto José González, far from the cheeriest of musicians. Those who don’t know him will no doubt have heard his cover of The Knife’s “heartbeats” which accompanied a lot of bouncy balls down a hill in a Sony Bravia advert (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_bx8bnCoiU). I regularly bought albums off the back off one great track and that Sony advert pushed me into buying “Veneer” and whilst there are a great many tracks you could choose that stand out from that album whenever I hear “Save your day” I pause. That intro is so melancholy, the guitar strings sound so heavy, I don’t think I’ve heard as much emotion wrung from the instrument as those opening strummed D chords.
It is far from being a nice, lovely, zip-a-dee-doo-dah track, the lyrical content appears to be about disposing of a dead body, or maybe not quite dead body, or maybe an altogether metaphorical body. But that’s not the point, that’s not the core of the song. The feel of the song is enchanting, the tone and the sound is brilliant. It’s a beautifully simple track, emotional, nostalgic and haunting and such a fine example of how powerful music can be with such very little.