Bon Iver is an indie folk style band led by vocalist Justin Vernon, who I find to be one of the more unique talents of our time. Utilizing a simplistic, yet deeply lyrical musical style, he infuses his music with a level of emotion that conveys to listeners the gravity of the emotions he felt as he wrote each song. In one of his more well known songs, “Skinny Love”, this is clearly evident.
Skinny Love, in addition to rest of Bon Iver’s debut album “For Emma Forever Ago”, was written at a moment of emotional turmoil in Vernon’s life. Having just broken up with his girlfriend of several years, while at the same time dealing with the disbanding of his old band DeYarmond Edison, Justin Vernon chose to isolate himself from the rest of society by hiding away in his cabin in the woods of Wisconsin in the dead of winter with nothing but his guitar. Over that winter, Vernon poured all his pain and anguish into his music, and the result was “For Emma Forever Ago”.
Consisting of nothing but vocals and a guitar, “Skinny Love” is one of the few songs that remained nearly untouched once it reached studio production. Because of this emotional “purity” it is one the most viscerally emotional songs on the album. While far from being technically perfect, his vocal is imbued with such raw emotion that I cannot help but feel as he must have felt in the process of writing this song. We have all dealt with the pains of love in our lives, and “Skinny Love” bridges the gap between artist and listener and creates a connection, allowing listeners like myself to relate my own past experiences with his own.
There are many people who find this genre of music to be boring, lacking the loud beats and emphatic sounds of many today’s most popular songs. But it this stark contrast to most of today’s music that can make “Skinny Love” so refreshing to listen to.