Jose Gonzalez "Local Valley (Mute)"
“Local Valley” is unmistakably a Gonzales album, but there are a number of changes in this one: It’s his first solo album to use computerized rhythms rather than the subtle percussion of his past efforts, and it’s the first to include lyrics in all three of the languages he speaks (English, Spanish and Swedish). But it’s also arguably his most energetic solo album, with many of the hushed Nick Drake-isms of his past work giving way to a sound that is less a fundamental change — it’s still mostly him and his guitar — than a livelier take on his format. There are more multi-tracked vocals, more guitars and many of the songs are more direct. And although a couple of the African-influenced songs get a little candle-and-incense-boutique, the penultimate track, a cover of Iranian-Swedish artist Laleh’s “En Stund Pa Jorden” (“A Moment on Earth”) is so beautiful it’s practically a hymn.