You don’t need to know its background to love For Emma, Forever Ago, Justin Vernon’s first release as Bon Iver. The rushing, rhythmic acoustic guitar work, swelling choruses and natural, imagistic lyrics will surely be enough to convince you. In fact, you can probably guess at that background by listening to what it produced – the sparseness, restraint, and beauty of the music beckoning to the four secluded months Vernon spent recording in a cabin tucked away in the frozen Wisconsin wood. The album takes a contemplative, ruminating course through experience, with stark emotional truths shining through the enigmatic lyrics. “Flume,” the opening track, sets the stage for the rest of the album in that regard: with lyrics such as the chorus’ “only love is all maroon, lapping lakes like leering loons,” the song won’t give itself away through written word – you’ve got to listen if you want to know.