Page 56 of 56

Re: Found on the Net ?

PostPosted: 10 Nov 2018, 14:02
by under a CPell
What a wonderful article, Steve! Thank you for posting it.
I just checked in to see if there was anything happening in this corner, JNST-wise.... But I agree there doesn't seem to be much point in it, because it wiil probably be a repeat of last year's event.
I'm glad there hasn't been any news on the Joanna-front, because I think I would miss most of it, not being on Facebook.

Re: Found on the Net ?

PostPosted: 10 Nov 2018, 17:50
by under a CPell
I hope they and their home are safe...

Re: Found on the Net ?

PostPosted: 16 Dec 2018, 00:42
by Steve
Thank you, under a CPell.

I did seriously consider doing something - even if it had a different format (such as trawling the web for other people's charts, and somehow merging them, along with inviting myself and anyone else who still comes to MilkyMoon to simply list all Joanna's songs in descending order of preference ... but I got caught up with boring work stuff and didn't. I suppose it could yet be done ... would you care to vote?

I tool would miss the news, as I've continued to shy away from Facebook.

I am glad you enjoyed the article. I also came across four excellent reviews of her albums on a site called NoRipCord, so again I will post them here for posterity.

I'm afraid I've been lazy, as I have not gone through these copy/pastes and reinstated the italics and bolds of the originals, but these (which all contain the line "Buy it from Insound" just under the header) can all be found at:
http://www.noripcord.com/reviews/music/ ... yed-mender
http://www.noripcord.com/reviews/music/joanna-newsom/ys
http://www.noripcord.com/reviews/music/ ... ave-one-me
http://www.noripcord.com/reviews/music/ ... som/divers

----------------------------------------------------------------

Joanna Newsom
The Milk-Eyed Mender

(Drag City / Spunk)

10 / 10

I long ago accepted that I'm in a minority when it comes to music. More often than not, other people either have no idea who I'm talking about, or disagree with me entirely. And really, most of the time, there's just no point in arguing, is there?

But sometimes, a musician comes along who makes you want to spread their gospel far and wide, for the good of all music lovers, and humanity in general. A musician who seems to have been sent to us from another world, to remind us what music, poetry and excellent songwriting is all about.

23-year old Joanna Newsom is most definitely such a person, a folk extraordinaire with pixie-like features and a ragged, childlike voice, sent to us from the gods in heaven, via Nevada City, California. And with a harp, no less!

Despite her youth, Newsom has long been a word-of-mouth sensation. Her first home-recorded folk songs, while unreleased, had already been making the rounds before finding their way into the hands of, among others, Will Oldham, who invited her to tour with him. She has also opened for Devendra Banhart and Cat Power, but even in this context, she cuts a league of her own.

With her distinctive voice, which catches and cracks occasionally through the force of glee and emotion, Newsom conveys a whole world of American country and folk influences. A self-professed fan of Appalachian music, Bluegrass and old blues, Newsom has a charming and idiosyncratic approach to songwriting. Part homespun poetry, part American folk, her love of story-telling feeds into her overarching folk sensibility.

And who'd have thought that the harp, alongside the piano, harpsichord and slide guitar, could be the instrument of choice for such a prophet? A large Celtic harp, too, not a small whispery one, which Newsom plays in equal parts like an angel and a belligerent street busker.

Furthermore, it's just so refreshing to hear contemporary songwriters using, you know, good grammar and proper syntax and stuff. It's this sheer literacy of her song-writing that makes her stand out. With an avant garde range of literary references, her songs are at times oblique and stilted in their language, but never prosaic or over-emotional. Lines like "See him fashion a cap from a page of Camus" might leave you perplexed, but it's a pleasant sort of open-ended contemplation.

From the ambling, country-style folk tale of Sadie, to the hearty, galloping piano sing-along of Inflammatory Writ, The Milk-Eyed Mender is like a travelling scrapbook of Americana, varying wildly in pace and tone, but with not a single bad song among them. Best of all, it is multi-layered in way that stands up to many, many listens, like a well-worn book of poems. This could well be my favourite album of 2004.

16 August, 2004 - 23:00 — Sally Pryor

----------------------------------------------------------------
Joanna Newsom
Ys

(Drag City)

7 / 10

What are we to make of Joanna Newsom's strange new album, Ys? The buzz pegs it as a revolutionary masterpiece, a major work of art worthy of museum display. Other voices are more sceptical. My favourite comes from the metacritic website where one post opines, "This will be on every critics top 10 list, and nobody will listen to it for more than five minutes." This is meant as condemnation, but it needn't be taken that way in order for it to be accurate. I have spent the past week or two listening to this puzzling album every day, not for enjoyment, but rather out of a sense of curiosity and duty. I still don't know what to make of it.

As a disclaimer, let me say that I harbour some resentment over having to do something I absolutely hate to do with pop music; seek out the lyrics and read them like a work of literature. The music was interesting enough but failed to induce the orgasmic response the internet told me I should have. Maybe the secret was hidden in the lyrics, I thought. It is, but it isn't. Newsom is, in a word, verbose. That's fine, because it's clear from a perusal of the lyric sheet that her pretensions are towards a post-renaissance poetry along the lines of Alexander Pope. I'm all for approaching an artist on her own terms, once I figure out what they are. Indeed, some of her imagery is interesting, beautiful or disturbing. I especially like her ominous description of "black airplanes" and "the retreat of their blind and hairless cavalry" from Only Skin. In the end though, I don't know what any of it means or is supposed to refer to. No problem, let's call it surreal and therefore legitimize its meaninglessness. After all, it certainly looks like poetry. Read it yourself, tell me I'm wrong.

Newsom plays the harp and is accompanied by terrific, eccentric arrangements from Van Dyke Parks. The setting is unremittingly lovely. Her voice is unique and intensely expressive. Anybody put off by it has no business calling themselves a pop music fan. I may not know what she is saying, but she certainly seems to, and that's all that really counts in terms of performance. She is committed to this material and it really comes across. Overall, the musical blueprint used here is unique, with extended pieces owing nothing to the obvious predecessors of Dylan or Prog. What Newsom has crafted is original, singular, and appealing; no mean feat. She succeeds at creating a world apart, hermetic and inviting at the same time. If Ys represents a major artistic accomplishment, this is the reason.

In summary, serious props must be given to Newsom for creating something musically new and enjoyable, but serious doubts remain about what it all means and how we are supposed to feel about it. At least with a band like the Ramones, whose lyrics are purposely inane, I know I'm supposed to jump up and down and throw myself at the wall. With Ys I'm left kind of stumped, which is (sorry internet buzz) a major problem. Like a museum piece, we can admire it, call it an artistic achievement, even appreciate parts of it on a visceral level, but not everything hanging on the wall adds up to much of significance, so let's not get carried away.

29 November, 2006 - 19:27 — Alan Shulman

----------------------------------------------------------------

Joanna Newsom
Have One On Me

(Drag City)

10 / 10

Let’s get this straight out of the way. Joanna Newsom is probably the most divisive artist of the 21st Century; she provokes a stronger reaction than Obama’s Healthcare bill with a side order of Marmite on toast. On the surface, it’s easy to see why she would rub people up the wrong way - a baroque harp-playing prodigy singing modern-day madrigals in a voice which is equal parts Kate Bush, Joni Mitchell and a melismatic pixie princess on helium. However, if you can’t see past any of this, then more fool you, as you’re missing out on something astonishing, especially where Have One On Me is concerned.

Just in case you weren’t aware of this yet, Have One on Me is a touch longer than your average record; in fact, it’s over two hours long and comes packaged as three CDs, each containing six tracks. Assimilating such a large amount of music may seem arduous and it’s true, how often do you get two hours to do nothing but listen to a record? Yet as well as this album being entirely engrossing on a standalone play, it’s also rich and imaginative enough to reward casual listening, where you can perform a lucky dip anywhere amongst the eighteen songs and be rewarded.

Have One On Me opens with Newsom gently forming a single word, “easy”, which sounds almost comically arch considering the complexity and technical skill of the songs that follow. Straight away it’s clear that she takes great care in her vocals and considers her voice to be as important an instrument as any other. As previously mentioned, the singing of La Newsom can be an acquired taste for some, but you’d be hard pressed to find another artist in 2010 who can express so much through just their vocal cords. The restraint of Easy, the rousing chorus of Good Intentions Paving Company, the animalistic yelp towards the climax of In California, the shimmering and arresting Ribbon Bows - the variety is both admirable and completely beguiling. When Newsom coos “in your arms” with such warmth and longing on No Provenance, it feels as if she’s singing directly to you, causing an involuntary shiver. If you’re not entirely ensconced in the world of Newsom at that point, you might want to be calling the emergency services and checking your pulse.

Even more extraordinary than the utterly mesmerising vocals is the astonishing attention to detail that has gone into the playing and recording of this album. It sounds ridiculous to suggest that not a note is out of place in an LP that tops the two hour mark, but it’s true. Newsom’s harp playing is bewitching, transforming an instrument that is mostly plagued by cartoon celestial connotations into a thing of otherworldly beauty, perfect for the songs it frames. At times, it appears that Have One On Me is the missing link between pop music and classical. We may be talking harp, horns and flutes rather than guitar, bass and keyboards, but the songs retain an irresistible accessibility, with more hooks than a JM Barrie convention.

Have One On Me defies convention and categorisation. Joanna Newsom is primarily earmarked as a folk artist, but this album is packed with such myriad styles, it’s impossible to pigeonhole. There’s straight-up singer-songwriter fare on the stylish ‘81, the barely-there instrumentation and perfectly judged light swing drumming of Occident, the Spaghetti Western giving way to bar-room blues of Soft as Chalk and the 1920s glitz and glamour reminiscent of old Hollywood of Autumn. Newsom manages to inhabit these songs and styles with such aplomb and conviction that it’s simply breathtaking. It’s also expertly sequenced, so the pace never drops and you remain enraptured for the duration.

After a breathtaking two hours, Have One On Me closes with the fluttering Does Not Suffice - potentially another irony-tinged nod to the sheer breadth of the album. Even at this late stage, there’s invention aplenty and a refreshing refusal to conform to type, with its flourishes that sound somewhat Gaelic and gothic simultaneously. It’s not a remarkable track in the context of the album, yet it is a significant one; a tender lament replete with a heavy sense of nostalgia. It’s as if Newsom recognises what an achievement Have One On Me is, and she’s just as astonished as the rest of us. The album experience is now complete and although it’s been hard work for her (and an all-too-rare feast for us), she’ll actually miss it now it’s gone. It’s unlikely that Joanna Newsom will be able to make an album as broad in scope and texture as Have One On Me again. This is a career-defining piece of work, and she’s completely earned her right to spend the next five years knocking out four-to-the-floor crowd pleasers. It’s not going to happen though, is it?

Summarising Have One On Me in a word is an impossibility, but the most apt is probably “absorbing”. If you hold the belief that the best albums inhabit their own space and time, and draw their listener into that world for their duration, then Have One On Me is fit to stand alongside the finest examples of the craft. It’s difficult to predict legacies for new albums without sounding like a misguided merchant of hyperbole, but Have One On Me is so enrapturing, so imaginative and so delicate, that it feels safe to say that in five or ten years time, you’ll go back to it and discover brand new things - whether they be the meaning of a song you’d never fathomed before or a simple amuse-bouche of a beautifully constructed oboe phrase.

Enough with the florid prose, please, buy this album. Don’t download it, buy it on a physical CD, hell, buy it on vinyl. Get rid of outside distractions, remove any white noise and give Have One On Me the full attention it deserves as one of the finest albums of this, or any, year.

28 March, 2010 - 13:14 — Joe Rivers

----------------------------------------------------------------

Joanna Newsom
Divers

(Drag City)

9 / 10

What is the place beyond the dawn? Joanna Newsom forces us to ask the question from the first lyrics of her latest and possibly greatest album, Divers. The word “place” implies a spatial plane, perhaps death visualized as an expanse of blackness; it could likewise be a symbolic dawn, a place before the “beginning.” But why are the scouts being “sent over from” it, with that strange choice and ordering of words? The timeline Newsom establishes in these first two lines is opaque and not quite in accordance with how we traditionally think of time or of life and death, if that is indeed what it is.

“And time in our camp is moving,” she continues, “as you’d anticipate it to/But what is this sample proving?/Anecdotes cannot say what time may do. The titular line of the song, Anecdotes, is perhaps easier to decode, but it has a double meaning. An anecdote is, of course, a story or incident that a person recalls, but it also refers to a not-entirely reliable record of something long past. The link between the two is rather apparent, and there is little doubt that Newsom, whose lyrics draw heavily on poetry of centuries past and who is exceedingly verbose when she wants to be, is aware of and playing with that ancient meaning. Our own experience of time may not be the most reliable manner of determining how it acts. Neither are records of the past.

Time, how it works, how we experience it, and how it records itself for us are the central themes of Divers. Anecdotes gives us characters (named after birds, in a charactonym that is characteristic of Newsom but once again not without another layer of meaning), a central theme, and questions to be answered later. The following song, Sapokanikan, densely intertwines archaeology with poetry to try to excavate a long-dead city that stood where New York’s Washington Square Park and Meatpacking District now stand. In a crucial pair of lines, impressionist Arthur Streeton is recalled to have inscribed the name of a presumed lover, “Florry Walker,” into his brilliant Spring painting, offering the first possibility of temporal transcendence and a contrast to the Ozymandian outlook to civilizations at large – love, certainly, but Newsom is equally concerned with art’s own ability to create and reconfigure time, and that is her supreme achievement this time around.

If it is not apparent by this point, Divers is not an album that you listen to in the background, or that you listen to once or twice. It is an album to which you devote 52 uninterrupted, attentive minutes, or maybe even 104, or 156, or 208, as the album seems to request. On the first level, Newsom is playing with her themes through a series of relevant vignettes. Goose Eggs offers extended flight metaphors to comment on a couple not united in the decision to move across the country; Waltz of the 101st Lightborne is a sci-fi story taking place after some kind of apocalypse; the seven-minute centerpiece Divers is a tale of unrequited love; and Same Old Man, a traditional song beautifully reworked here, is a bitter remembrance of an abandoned New York City. Much of the material can loosely be termed “love songs,” concerned with the permanence or lack thereof of love and memory.

Whether this makes Divers a “concept album” or not is an argument of semantics more than anything. Like most of the best albums, there is a sense of unity to the songs and importance to their order, and in this case they could all function as snapshots in time that lead to accumulated wisdom, culminating in the undoing of linear time itself. At the same time, however, most of the songs contain an internal logic. The magic here is that the juxtaposition of particular points of view and images from song-to-song create new interpretive possibilities.

Musically, too, these songs differentiate themselves from one another and largely from Newsom’s previous work. It is immediately apparent that Newsom’s upper register is more controlled and classical than ever. Song-by-song, her musical diversity becomes equally impressive. The harp is not the primary instrument on any of the first three songs, for starters, but the Kate Bush vibes on Anecdotes (likely a coincidence related to singing voice and classical piano leanings), dissipate within a song. The marxophone, mellotron and drums of Leaving The City create a fuller sound than Newsom is generally associated with, the playful beginning of Goose Eggs doesn’t have the melody we might expect from her, and the darkness of Divers comes as a surprise. Often times the melodies soar, instruments layer, and Newsom’s voice sustains one turn of phrase after another, but the sparsity of The Things I Say and A Pin-Light Bent are just as memorable.

The former is particularly notable. “Profoundly beautiful” is a phrase often used, and adding adverbs to beautiful in general seems to suggest something hyperbolic, but there is no other phrase that seems quite so appropriate for the song – not because of the sheer breadth or enormity or intensity of its beauty, but because Newsom’s sparse accompaniment lends something profound to her lyrics that would not exist otherwise.

The song begins with a self-defeating alienation and then paints a beautiful image, “when the sky goes pink in Paris, France/do you think of the girl who used to dance/when you’d frame her moving within your hands/saying ‘this, I won’t forget,’” before asking, “What happened to the man you were/when you loved somebody before her?/Did he die?/Or does that man endure somewhere far away?//Our lives come easy and our lives come hard/we carry them like a pack of cards/some we don’t use but we don’t discard?”

It may not look like much on paper, but on a meditative album so concerned with multiplying selves and the experience of time, so hung up on parallels with art and poetry, so full of symbols and allegories, a rose by any other name would not smell as sweet. Can one go back to a moment simply with a clear memory of it, The things I Say asks? Do our roads not taken exist elsewhere in the multiverse Divers so convincingly creates from its first lyric? And what of those other roads diverging in the woods? Are we so free to backtrack after we have picked the one less traveled by? Must that choice, Newsom is asking, make all the difference?

The Things I Say ends with a back-masked message saying “somewhere far away.” It is the moment on the album in which time really does reverse. Rather than sounding eerie, though, Newsom’s vocals sound, like everything else she sings on the song, delicate yet thoughtful, and she owes that only to herself, her compositional excellence and her arrangements.

When the listener starts to put pieces together, something that may take multiple listens because, for reasons that gradually reveal their brilliance the clues are not arranged in order. If time is affirmed as something that travels “both ways,” with the seven-minute centerpiece and title track beautifully summarizing the inevitable heartbreak awaiting one opts to experience it linearly, why should the listener be able to merely follow the album and get the answer? Time, As a Symptom, its final song—or perhaps the eleventh song, as Newsom refers to it—plays then begins with the same dove call as Anecdotes and ends with a call to that song’s character Nightjar to transmit the message “transcend” and ends with just the syllable “trans” being spoken. The abrupt cut is completed by the first word, “sending” in Anecdotes. In an album about the multifaceted experience of time, time does indeed move both ways, forcing the listener to go back to the beginning, “from the place beyond the dawn,” both backward and forward, before and after, as those strangely but deliberately worded opening lines tell us.

This transcendence is enabled, in context of the album’s ostensible time-hopping, war-torn “narrative,” through love. On a structural level, however, the links between love and art highlighted throughout the album provide Divers and Newsom, like Spring and Florry Walker, with immortality, an extended rebuttal to Percy Bysshe Shelley “Ozymandias,” invoked directly on Sapakanikan.

Listening to Divers, once, then again, then again, it becomes increasingly impressive that Newsom, four albums but 7 CDs into her career (Have One On Me is a triple album that exceeds this one in length but maybe not in scope), is continuing to find new ways of making music, both on the micro, song-by-song, and the macro, album level. Like all Newsom’s albums, it is full of beautiful music and lyrics that initially appear enigmatic but are in fact simply dense, but it’s the first one to embed within itself, on various levels, the necessity to continue mining its depths. One who does not is as doomed as the speaker of the eponymous track.

3 November, 2015 - 15:09 — Forrest Cardamenis

----------------------------------------------------------------

Re: Found on the Net ?

PostPosted: 27 Jan 2019, 23:45
by Steve
It's undated, but I just came across Diffuser FM's "50 most influential alternative musicians of the 21st century", which included, at number 35 ...

35. Joanna Newsom
All the myriad complexities of Joanna Newsom's music — the meticulous rhyme schemes, the labyrinthine compositions, the delicate harp interludes — have, over the course of four albums, achieved one thing, if nothing else: They brought a kind of compositional seriousness (and, let's be honest — genius) to the realm of indie music. Entire websites exist dedicated to deciphering the possible meanings behind her lyrics. This music doesn't just demand listening, but study; her albums unfold over not days or weeks but years. Newsom isn't just making music to obsess over, though — she's reshaping pop music into something respectable.