For Emma, Forever Ago Image
Metascore
88

Universal acclaim - based on 27 Critics What's this?

User Score
9.3

Universal acclaim- based on 229 Ratings

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  • Summary: The debut album from ex-DeYarmond Edison member Justin Vernon.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
  1. 100
    Isolation doesn't get more splendid than this. [June 2008, p.100]
  2. For Emma, though only nine tracks long, is as beautiful, bleak and intimate as anything 2008 is likely to throw up.
  3. Although For Emma, Forever Ago works best as a concise listen, as each song segues naturally into the next, tracks like 'Blindsided' and 'For Emma' quickly rise as shining standouts.
  4. While none of Bon Iver's background notes scream "new"--dissolved love affair, check; band breaks up (Vernon's freak-jug outfit, DeYarmond Edison), check--the chilling, rusty grandeur of For Emma will stop you in your snow tracks, however little it snows around here.
  5. 80
    Vernon's voice--delicately layered and yearning--gives standouts 'Skinny Love' and 'Flume' their stunningly direct emotional impact, but his sturdy folk cords, earthy melodies, and plainspoken, pastoral lyrics prevent the album from descending into self-pity. [Mar 2008, p.97]
  6. As good as it is, it’s clear that Vernon still has room to grow. A few songs could have used a little extra instrumental kick, and while his songs are great, you can tell he has more to offer. Keep an eye on this one.
  7. The turns of phrase are usually cul-de-sacs, the flights into obscurity have bum wings, and do you really prefer, for instance, Vernon's best-in-show "Now all your love is wasted?/Then who the hell was I?" (much less "Only love is all maroon/Lapping lakes like leery loons") to this Creeley ordinaire

See all 27 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 89 out of 93
  2. Negative: 0 out of 93
  1. Nov 17, 2010
    10
    Every word penetrates our hearts like a recognition of our most sincere feelings. This is a perfect album, where every song feels like it's meant to exist. It's impossible to get tired off every single one of this musics... Expand
  2. Jun 16, 2011
    10
    A truly cathartic masterpiece of a debut album from Justin Vernon. What started as a retreat ended in creation, that creation came in the form of "For Emma, Forever Ago". Like many, the first song that peaked my interest was "Skinny Love" (please don't pretend like you're "over" this track because it's popular you elitist douche) every song on the album builds and destroys, pushes and pulls, burns and freezes the emotions of a bitter heartbreak and quiet defeat of denial.I've never met a person who has taken the time to sit down and listen to this album and not love...if these people exist...I would rather never acknowledge their existence for as long as I live. Expand
  3. Jun 20, 2011
    10
    It is heartbreakingly lovely, personal, and visceral. It is perfect for lying in bed and dozing, reading, or having on outside in the sun for a day. This album couldn't be better. Expand
  4. May 28, 2013
    10
    This album is the example set when one thinks about good music. It's amazing what such a talented musician when they go back to their roots. Every song as beautiful as the other and every word a painful memory to a proud belief, this album deserves the best ratings from every critic. Expand
  5. Oct 25, 2013
    10
    The soulful lo-fi tones of Bon Iver’s debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago, exude the loneliness and heartbreak that characterized the writing and recording of the songs by Justin Verner in a remote cabin in the wintry woods of Wisconsin. Beautifully balanced, the album moves from one haunting melody to the next, each track building and developing it into a story of lost love and longing. It starts with the slow tones of Flume and progresses to the more upbeat horns in For Emma before dialing back down to end with the poetic lyrics and simple guitar riffs of Re: Stacks.

    For Emma, Forever Ago plucks at old memories of long-lost loves, and is a rare treat in a fast-paced world, inviting you to slow down, have a cup of tea, and watch the snow fall softly down outside a cabin in the woods.
    Expand
  6. Nov 9, 2012
    9
    Sad, sorrowful, and, at times, quite powerful. Bon Iver's debut will quietly blow you away.
  7. Jul 14, 2011
    5
    In a word- it's boring. It has its moments, like "Skinny Love," a track that actually features some loud/soft dynamics, but the rest is just too monotone. The man makes it clear that he's been hurt and for a little while, makes you care. Unfortunately, while listening to this album, I kept waiting for so many of the tracks to actually go somewhere, and they hardly ever did. If you are a fan of the "one man playing an acoustic guitar softly" genre (think Iron & Wine's earlier albums), you may well love this as many others like you have. Otherwise, you will find this to be overhyped and disappointing. Expand

See all 93 User Reviews