In Our Nature
First Appeared in The Music Box, November 2007, Volume 14, #11
Written by John Metzger
Fri November 9, 2007, 06:40 AM CST
On the surface, there arenít any differences between the way that Jose Gonzalez approached his sophomore set In Our Nature and the manner in which he assembled his highly acclaimed debut Veneer. Both outings are minimalist affairs that are as hauntingly dark and foreboding as they are mysteriously feathery and beautiful. His albums are conceptual, with each song playing the role of a chapter in a novel. Each lyric that he delivers drifts quietly, almost conversationally above his gently churning, finger-picked guitar patterns, and the intimacy that he cultivates allows him to express his anguish without ever raising his voice above a whisper or, for that matter, showing much emotion.
As was the case with Veneer, In Our Nature is a meditation on the fine lines that divide life from death, love from hate, and war from peace. While Veneer dealt with the demonic shadows that lurk within oneís own heart, however, In Our Nature focuses on the turmoil that the world at large currently is facing. The albumís first act is a direct attack on the aggressive and destructive policies of George W. Bush. "Invasion after invasion, this means war/Someday youíll be up to your knees in the shit you seed," Gonzalez declares on How Low; "Itís all about colonizing," he states on Down the Line; and "Youíve got a heart filled with passion/Will you let it burn for hate or compassion?" he queries on Killing for Love.
Together, In Our Natureís title track and Gonzalezís cover of Massive Attackís Teardrop serve as the setís turning point. The former is a mournful plea for peace, while the latter tune gleans new meaning from the context in which it is placed. During the remainder of In Our Nature, Gonzalez focuses upon addressing the American public. He takes the countryís citizens to task for flaunting their material wealth (Time to Send Someone Away), for disengaging from the world rather than embracing it in a positive fashion (The Nest), and for failing to distance themselves fully from their leaderís mistakes (Fold). Although he begs for a change in the nationís course of action, his hopefulness is belied by the air of resignation in his voice.
From start to finish, In Our Nature is a protest album, one that draws direct connections to the music made by Crosby, Stills & Nash and Simon & Garfunkel during the height of the Vietnam war. The problem, however, is that Gonzalezís detached delivery, which worked so well on Veneer to shroud his horrific tale with an icy chill, does a disservice to the overarching storyline of In Our Nature. By turning so overtly political, Gonzalez pushes his message too hard, and he subsequently overplays his hand. The result is that he loses the mysterious and cryptic qualities that made Veneer so intriguing and resonant, and he sounds so apathetic that heís not likely to spur the sort of revolution that he seems so desperate to incite.
Of Further Interest...
In Our Nature is available from
Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2007 The Music Box