JOSE GONZALEZ, "Stay in the Shade EP"

If you blinked last year, you might have missed Jose Gonzalez's stateside debut, "Veneer."

If you blinked last year, you might have missed Jose Gonzalez's stateside debut, "Veneer." The Swedish-by way of-Argentina folk singer has drawn modest comparisons to luminary folk singer-songwriters, most notably Nick Drake and Elliott Smith. The accolades were enough to earn him a multi-album deal with Mute Records, but this five-song EP is a brief, but pleasant afterthought of where he took us with "Veneer."

The stripped-down acoustic guitar meets soft percussion formula is the same, but Gonazlez's voice is as warm as the guitar strumming is simple. A take on Kylie Minogue's "Hand on Your Heart" turns the club staple into an actual love song, while the closing instrumental is a beautiful, soft crescendo piece with an alto horn compliment. Recommended for fans of quiet, folk traditions. -- Michael D. Ayers