Picture walking through a meadow at dawn with cold feet and a haze of fog in the distance, that same serene calmness and uncertainty can be found in “Comrade.” Justin Vernon has this innate ability to paint pictures through his music that wander along the cusp between beautiful reality, and vivid imagination. As the dream reaches for the stars sonically, the raw emotion keeps your feet grounded.
Justin Vernon of Bon Iver teamed up with members from Collections Of Colonies of Bees a few years back, and Repave is their second full-length album. CCB uses traditional folk instrumentation with a more modern approach, technically speaking. Vernon had previously stated them as one of his favourite bands, saying their sound helped re-arrange his musical instinct. If you have listened to both parties separately, you know it would be a crying shame for them not to collaborate. The grit in Vernon’s voice and no-bullshit approach to writing with their unorthodox brilliance instrumentally, creates a powerful canvas.
The record opens in cinematic fashion with “Tiderays.” The buildup portrayed here is magnificent; the road being paved is chock-full of sounds and emotions, each taking their appropriate place in this five-minute journey. This bigger picture is about Repaving, and “Acetate” taps into that by standing your ground against an unhealthy relationship. Love has it’s time and place, it’s moments, but his point being, the search does not by any means need to be the continual focal point until you discover it. That being said, further along this 8-track LP, “Dancepack” find them all in a reflective state as Vernon authoritatively exclaims “Take note, there’s still a hole in your heart.”
Much like Vernon finds himself swooning over the opposite sex in an array heartbreak and broken promises, “Alaskans” shows glimpses of that. That storytelling we’ve all grown so accustomed to, is in full force as a relationship sways back and forth until Justin “decides to repave inside the lade.” The repetition of each aforementioned word shows signs of a heart, a heart that doesn’t find comfort in heartbreak. It’s Bukowski’s tears on live television, it’s the man that brought us “Skinny Love,” humans are not invincible, and at some point we all need to repave.
The album was recorded over a span of two years, and some might find that odd. In this specific situation, when the two key components that make up a project are stemming from separate parties, that synergy might not forge as easily. Despite the logistics of recording a record, the life experiences and personal turmoil one might go through within that time-frame would only fuel the fire. And in due time the sparks fly, creating something majestic. This is an album about rebuilding, standing your ground and shouting “set sail.”