No amount of talking, my Little Bird – signed, sealed, delivered, you sang

Joanna Newsom’s ‘Have One On Me’ has hit the net streaming.

And I only want it to “…pull over and hold me until I can’t remember my own name.”

Of course, I’m sure it’s available in much less reputable ways [“My word”] but I wouldn’t know about that [ 😉 ] as I intend to buy the thing…alongside any show I can get to see her perform at this year. [Edit: at least I would if she weren’t sold out but for Wheelchair Access seats – and sure, I’m a bastard – but taking a wheelchair space away from someone who needs it? Yeah, I know, it’s tempting but I couldn’t.]

Blog critics web-wide have panned it. OK, other than Pitchfork – who love it – and Stratospheric – who almost gave it a one word review with his post-title ‘Obligatory’ – most people have called it banal, ‘background music’ including NPR who streamed it first.

For me, it is a beautiful, natural progression of her work.

Last time I wrote something about her, I talked about her path back in time as she steps further down along her own string toward some Judee Sill-ness. This autumnal layering, evident in Sill’s tone throughout her oeuvre, is present in Newsom’s newest. But not only that.

Orchestration isn’t sparse as it was on her 1st, Milk Eyed Mender, and neither is it so all-encompassing as to be epic like it was back on Ys but instead it is a companion at all points.
It is always subtly there – so much so that it takes a quiet ear to really appreciate how easily her harp and the orchestration’s soft combination combine to effect differently on each track.

In California gives us representation of some crude balance life from the jostling crackle of her questioning ‘My heart don’t belong to anyone’ words against the percussive waves of passion and, challenging again, the occasional light break from conversation and thinking into only dancing and forgetting. We end, as almost always, unfinished and unknowing with our smile intact but falling.

Go Long makes me ask ‘How does she know her Other so well?’ When she tells him ‘With the loneliness of you mighty men-with your mighty kiss’ it turns some muscle in my gut that used to like being told  ‘you are a silly goose…’ [said with soft appreciation] as Newsom precedes her confession of his loneliness with. This combines with a quiet track throughout to distill hers and his lonelinesses into a chipped-dark-crystal.

These are just two subjective understandings from the week I’ll be spending with it.


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