Music is a universal language. Attending the Jose Gonzalez show on February 6, I was struck by the universality of melody, harmony and percussion. I sat in a nearly full Spaulding. Students and locals sat mesmerized by sound. Bedouine, Azniv Korkeji, opened the night, her distinct voice accompanied by only a guitar. As the stage filled with fog and the audience listened attentively, Bedouine made an enormous space feel intimate, the poetic lyrics of her music complemented by her gentle manner of speaking and banter with the audience. Her album released in December of last year continues to draw attention within the folk genre. Azniv, originally from Syria, writes about the human experience. Her music has the rare gift of allowing you to glimpse into her untainted complex yet beautiful reality, exemplified in these lyrics from her track “Solitary Daughter,” “I don’t need your company/ to feel saved/ I don’t need the sunlight/ My curtains don’t draw/ I don’t need objects/ to keep or to pawn.”
As Bedouine’s set came to a close, we were welcomed by a new voice. Jose Gonzalez commands the stage from a solitary chair and mic, surrounded by multiple guitars. Jose, originally from Argentina, has called Sweden home for a number of years, after his family fled Argentina’s “Dirty War.” Jose began his musical career playing bass guitar in a hardcore punk band, which is surprising after hearing his independent music. As a classical guitarist, Jose’s abilities allowed him to dabble in a number of genres at a young age. Now he seems to have settled into an indie-folk style of music. This show included songs from his newest album, Vestiges and Claws, along with old favorites. Vestiges and Claws is Jose’s first album in seven years, and this time he worked entirely independently. The album’s tracks include more percussion and melodic complexity than Bedouine’s, creating a different and somehow complimentary sound. Jose captured the audience with his raw vocals, his indie-folk sound referencing Simon and Garfunkel among others. As the night came to a close, the audience’s rapturous applause commanded an encore; we sat unwilling to part with the musical rapture.