Justin Vernon is a musical force of nature. Between his last album in 2011 and now he recorded tracks with Kanye, James Blake, Mavis Staples, Francis and the Lights, and Colin Stetson, recorded full albums with Volcano Choir and Shouting Matches, produced albums for Kathleen Edwards and The Staves, started the Eaux Claires Festival in his hometown with The National’s Aaron Dessner, opened a studio in the same area, and won a Grammy despite openly insulting the Grammys.
After all that activity he’s finally finished his newest album with the project that made him famous in the first place, Bon Iver, and it’s even more opaque than usual. Directness has never been a virtue that Vernon honors. Many assumed that the eponymous Emma from his first album was an old flame. But he later revealed that it was actually a state of mind, a combination of a broken relationship, sickness, and leaving his old band DeYarmond Edison. He obscures meaning to an almost comical degree with the songs titles of 22, A Million.