I had the good fortune to pick up a copy of London’s Metro newspaper last week only to find their review of Joanna Newsom’s newest Have One On Me.
The Metro reviewer called it – albeit with some interesting ‘anti-pop’ caveats – the strangest ‘…break-up album of all time’. It turns out that almost everyone who has been published in newspapers – and a lot online – thinks this also.
Alright, so I’m paraphrasing.
But they definitely used the words ‘…break-up’.
I think they can’t see the forest for the trees with those comment.
Newsom’s newest is so much more than that.
There are some obvious elements of that quick, broad brush-stroke phrase in some of the songs on Have One On Me – and even the title would indicate some intimacy – but it is with confidence I would say that the album is far from negative.
It is wistful, yes, but it is also whimsical.
Their is an autumnal change evident in the entirety of the album – evident on almost every track whether in tone or vocals – but every also includes some uplifting, cathartic denouement. Even the shortest track, On a Good Day, is ‘…a beautiful memory, replaying / with the sound turned down low’ [my emphasis] as well as a reflection on that memory’s sound. Every time her characters speak [and thus her own character speaks] to an old lover or a once-thought-of villain she is nurturing in her understanding that ‘You have done harm/ Others have done worse./ Will you tuck your shirt or leave it loose?/ You are badly hurt, you are a silly goose.’
I’d go so far as to say that the album is not a ‘break-up’ album but, in fact, a break-out.
And yes, this will be the last I talk about it…