When music journos write up Veneer, they inevitably go all Napa Valley on the album’s sound: a “delicate” balance of “subtle phrasing” and “ethereal vocals” providing an “autumnal” vibe across the album’s 11 tracks. (Reads like Zagat, doesn’t it?) But most of those modifiers are right on; though friends feign yawns at the mention of his name, Gonzalez is capable of moments of undeniable sublimity. And that tenor ringing from a man so slight is as surreal as it is stunning.
On Friday Jose treated Spin’s offices to a glimpse at his singular balladry. The sound in that room was amazing, and put Bowery Ballroom’s (where we’d catch him again with Juana Molina a few days later) to shame. After a short set including spine-tingling renditions of “Lovestain,” “Dead Weight On Velveteen” and of course “Heartbeats,” he was off to his first sold-out show at the Ballroom with Miss Molina and Psapp.
We had to strain a tad at times to ignore some of the chatty glad-handing going on near the open bar at the back of the room, but even that ruckus usually only lasted through the first few bars of Jose’s tunes. He was so on in the SPINHouse that even the boozers bit that lip and observed in awe.
He’s hitting over a dozen great festivals this summer, so now you have another reason to leave the country.