Artist: Bon Iver Track: "Blood Bank" Album: Blood Bank EP Listen

Friends, I and likely Bon Iver's entire global fan base feared supreme disappointment with anything released after the Wisconsin musician's opus, For Emma, Forever Ago. Out officially in 2007 and hyphy in 2008, that record was somehow too serene, too touching, too deep and complete a look into a man's soul. It was that lovely blanket of snow captured on a winter postcard that melts and never returns. There could be no topping it, we thought, and everything will crumble.

This is what happens when you record a debut in your relative's remote cabin: You head to the studio and people no longer trust you.

But, to the joy and chagrin of many, Justin Vernon's follow-up release is great. The opening bars of "Blood Bank" immediately introduce the warmth of the studio to the guitar tones and vocals, which sound cleaner and more refined but exude the same intimacy that made For Emma such a powerful part of your life last year. The rest follows the same pattern -- an expensive polish illuminating pensive, yearning music from an artist who shows no signs of slowing down.