Mar 17, 2010

The Hook Upon Which Everyone Hangs

The new Joanna Newsom album, Have One on Me, is appropriately epic in size - 3 discs, 18 songs ranging from 1:49 to 11:02 - and scope - Bill Callahan! Gold Rush! Fame! Her voice has mellowed out, apparently from vocal nodes, but it is to our benefit: the brash grating ("dying babies") of Milk-Eyed Mender and the occasional wince-inducing shrieks on Ys have given in to softer, more gracefully sung songs that are no less unique in style. Similarly, the precociousness of the first album and the melancholia of Ys has yielded an audible wiseness from Newsom that is no less ambitious, and maybe even more beautiful. It's a little boozier, jazzier, sadder, stronger and more vulnerable at once. I feel like Joanna is in a strange way the female counterpart to Leonard Cohen for her poetic, lyrically dense style - music to listen to in the foreground, over and over and over.
There was a good piece in the NY Times Magazine last week here.
This stunner track so far kind of just kills it. As Matt said, YES:

There is no video yet, obviously... But that piano! Those backing vocals! Thank goodness for Joanna Newsom. I'm sick of looking backwards for good music.

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