10 November 2005

separated at birth?

stay in the shade : josé gonzález
north marine drive : ben watt
click on their images below to listen
total listening time: 4m 40s

No, I'm not talking about their looks. (No shit, Sherlock!) These guys are so much alike they could have come from the same musical gene. Their voices, their fingerpicking patterns, the overall mood of their songs – I've never heard two musicians sound so similar. And yet, these songs are 22 years apart. José González, born to Argentinian parents, is a new act just emerging from Sweden, and Stay in the Shade comes from his debut album Veneer which came out last September. González is being counted as part of the so-called New Acoustic Movement that embraces mostly male – and mostly European – musicians who make sensitive music out of nothing more than their steel-string guitars, languid voices, and self-refective lyrics. Ben Watt, on the other hand, is half of the British husband-and-wife duo Everything But The Girl, and North Marine Drive comes from his pre-EBTG album of the same name released in 1982. He has now found a new passion as a producer and DJ. In both gentlemen, the Nick Drake influence is quite obvious; these songs can sit side by side with Road or From the Morning (from Drake's landmark album Pink Moon in 1972). I'm just fascinated by the fact that these works are decades apart, yet sound like they're contemporaries. Long live the one-man-one-guitar affair?

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