Following a five year layoff, Bon Iver is back this fall with 22, A Million. The album follows years of Justin Vernon expanding his base – collaborating with Kanye West and James Blake – and releasing records as a member of both Volcano Choir and the Shouting Matches. His work with West and Blake particularly shines through on the first two songs on 22, A Million, released alongside the announcement of the album. While “10 d E A T h b R E a s T ⊠ ⊠ (Extended Version)” is uncharacteristically fussy and chaotic (in all the best ways), “22 (OVER S∞∞N) [Bob Moose Extended Cab Version]” is the perfect synthesis between the acoustic, isolated feel of For Emma, Forever Ago and the soaring, affirming qualities of Bon Iver, Bon Iver.
Speaking on the new album, longtime friend and one-time band member Trevor Hagen offered some insight on the making of 22, A Million, revealing a recording process as personal as the one gone through For Emma. 22, A Million is a “final resting place of two decades of searching for self-understanding like a religion. And the inner-resolution of maybe never finding that understanding,” he writes. Justin Vernon expresses all that in the opening lines of “22 (OVER S∞∞N)” when he sings, “Where you gonna look for confirmation / And if it’s ever gonna happen” over an instrumental that feels like day easing night’s grip. As the transmission flutters, a lonely saxophone – performed by Michael Lewis and Bon Iver’s backing sax band, excellently called Sad Sax of Shit – enters like a guiding light, pushing Vernon towards this path. The fear of never quite comprehending what all this means is only matched by the joy and warmth music brings.
22, A Million is out September 30 via Jagjaguwar.