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10-11-2006
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seagreen serenades
 
strawberry daiquiri's Avatar
 
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Joanna Newsom


possibly the most talented lady in the wide world

that she doesn't have a thread already is a surprise really given how many fans she has here.

anyway, her new album Ys has just been released, and thanks to Estella ( ) I was already madly in love with it. different no doubt, and i've read some very unforgiving reviews (including one that claimed there was no harp on it ) but it's even more mystical and addictive to me than The Milk-eyed Mender.

fromamouth.com/milkymoon


Last edited by strawberry daiquiri; 10-11-2006 at 01:06 PM.
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10-11-2006
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10-11-2006
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Some more pictures... though the music should really be your first impression of her.





fromamouth.com/milkymoon


Last edited by strawberry daiquiri; 10-11-2006 at 01:07 PM.
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10-11-2006
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hurrah!, strawberry, better late than never. :p

I gave an opportunity to milk-eyed two years ago and I was soon too saturated by her voice. I havent listened to Ys yet but I'm trying to!. I'll probably get it today.

thanks for starting the thread, beautiful pictures, especially the opener.

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10-11-2006
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This is such a coincidence because my co-workers and I were all just talking about her over lunch...here is the article that sparked the conversation...sorry, it's long.

from the boston phoenix, 11/09/06
Quote:
Poetic justice
Joanna Newsom rises to the occasion on Ys


By: JAMES PARKER
11/9/2006 10:22:29 AM



Approximately two centuries ago, when I saw Chicago’s Big Black play the Hammersmith Clarendon in London, the following occurred: in the heat of the performance, someone grabbed the neck of Steve Albini’s guitar, gripped it, and had his hand sliced open when Albini whipped it haughtily away. For the rest of the show, this aggrieved celebrant was flicking blood from his wound at Albini, in an act of profane anointment, until the white T-shirt of the Big Black frontman was pink with it. (Albini, needless to say, never blinked.) “That’s ****ing crazy!” says Joanna Newsom, speaking from her home in Northern California, when I tell her about it. “What a great story. I wonder if he remembers . . . ”

Albini is our topic because it was he — in his capacity as a producer — who recorded Newsom’s voice and harp for her new full-length, Ys (out November 14 on Drag City), in which the crooked madrigals of her 2004 debut, The Milk-Eyed Mender, are exchanged for longer and more elaborate loop-de-loops through an idiosyncratic panorama of “felten mountains,” breaking hearts, doves made of gloves, and tiny people bouncing around in coracles.

Newsom, who had never heard Big Black or Albini’s subsequent project, Rapeman, was steered toward him by Drag City supremo Dan Koretsky. “The other people involved [with the album] were my idea, and certainly Dan had suggested a lot of things that I didn’t agree with, or declined to do, but I thought it was pretty perfect when he suggested Albini — that seemed like the thing to go with. I’ve heard Big Black now, and it’s awesome, but I hadn’t at the time — I’m sort of out of touch about a lot of music. What I did know, which was something that I’d heard again and again and again, was that he is the king of recording a live acoustic instrument. That he was able to capture this naturalness and presence that very few people could do. Also a sort of brutality that I felt I needed.”

“Personal brutality?”, I ask cautiously, imagining the attitudinous Albini issuing verbal smackdowns from behind the mixing board. “Oh no, no. More that he can preserve the innate brutality of the act of making music. I mean, his contribution is mainly one of incredible technical ability, but in terms of emotion and the energy of the room, what he was great at was just allowing me to feel like I was in my living room. He’s an incredibly great and supportive personality in that context, not scary at all. I know he’s known for his sharp wit and black humor and all that . . . ”

Ys doesn’t so much fulfill the expectations raised by The Milk-Eyed Mender as transcend them. Newsom’s antic, wizened, young/old voice is all her own, but it has strengthened and grown to take in other voices — the rural voice of Virginia ballad singer Texas Gladden, for example, creaking like a corridor to another time, or even the eldritch snarl of Billie Holiday. And the words . . . the words are Cormac McCarthy having tea with Stevie Smith in the land where the Bong Tree grows. Quaintness, precision, extremes of passion ironically regarded, acoustic resonances that trip each other through the long lines and pack the shorter ones with music — hang your heads, folk pretenders, because this it what it means to write lyrics. From “Sawdust and Diamonds”: “Drop a bell off of the dock/Blot it out in the sea/Drowning mute as a rock/Sounding mutiny.”

“Writing music has always been such a huge part of my life that I have a hard time being conscious of my own process. I forget to pay attention to what I feel like when I’m doing it. Writing words is more of that experience of just waiting for something to work.”

I suggest that writers often envy musicians the more generous creative economy in which they operate, their ability to splash through shapes and noises until something good pops out. “It’s so funny how the physicality of improvising produces these musical forms that can be useful. Sometimes I wonder if there’s a process that could be equivalent in writing words, but nothing has ever worked for me. I mean, what are you supposed to do, just shout out random words as fast as you can until you come up with the word that you want?”

There are complex, suggestive orchestral accompaniments on Ys — filigrees of strings and what not — that are scored and conducted by Van Dyke Parks, but to be honest I can do without them. For me it’s all about Joanna, steering the barge of her harp through these snickering side currents. How does she keep it all together, words and music, when performing live (which she’ll do this Tuesday, November 14, at the Somerville Theatre)?

“Well, I play best from a technical standpoint when I’m most — for lack of a less cheesy way to say it — emotionally present. With my hands and the harp and everything — it’s all a unified state of focus. Which means that I have good nights and bad nights. If I see a little red light dancing in the darkness and I know that somebody’s videotaping me, I’ll get distracted, and I might forget the words. Or people will hold up their cell phones, that’s funny too — you can see the glowing face of the cell phone. That totally trips me out. Knowing that people are videotaping me is the worst — it’s being taped and they’re gonna put it on the Internet, and I hate that.”

Ah yes, the dogs of fame. An oppressive hum of attention surrounds the release of Ys, as last-minute preparations are made for the media coronation of a neo-folk fairy queen, guardian of the feminine principle in pop culture, heiress to the throne of Björk and Kate Bush. Newsom is a most gracious and unaffected interviewee, going for honesty with every answer, and that’ll wear you out quick. “I think I really upset a woman who interviewed me yesterday. I just said, you know, could we maybe talk about something else? Because I’ve been asked that question many times in the last few months. I’ve started to feel like I need to be responsible for the comments that go out into the universe, and if people ask me over and over again about the same things, it produces these volumes of quotes, which in turn get read by the next interviewer who thinks, ‘Hmmm, I should ask about that, that seems like it’s something that’s interesting to her.’ When often it’s really not — it’s just me attempting to be a good sport. And for some reason I wasn’t feeling as . . . sportive yesterday, and this poor lady was really upset with me.”

See that? “Sportive” (“adj. Gay, playful, frolicsome”), not “sporty.” Everything counts in large amounts, as Depeche Mode so wisely observed. It’s easy to mistake singularity for eccentricity, or disinhibition for indulgence, but Joanna Newsom is as serious and — in her way — as hardcore an artist as you can imagine. Albini must have loved her. Listen to that voice in “Sawdust and Diamonds,” small and rattled but shivering with defiance: “I wasn’t born of a whistle, or milked from a thistle at twilight/No; I was all horns and thorns, sprung out fully formed, knock-kneed and upright.” Take her word for it.

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10-11-2006
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I love Joanna! When I first got The Milk-Eyed Mender I couldn't remove it from my CD-player for quite some time. I can't wait to get my copy of Ys, it just seems to be taking forever though, I don't know what the postal service has against me..

She needs to come to Northern Europe again I missed her last year because I didn't have time to go to Sweden that summer.

The picture taken by Lisa Predko is lovely. Here's three more taken by her:

fromamouth.com/milkymoon/

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10-11-2006
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Judging from the praise herein, if I gave Joanna a listen, I would then change my mind about Leonard Cohen being my favorite harpist, and my opinion about Kate Bush being the most talented lady. But even as an avoider of change, I'm tempted...

THe title Sawdust and Diamonds reminds me of Diamonds & Rust from Joan Baez. :p (And little of Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend...)

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11-11-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deeth
When I first got The Milk-Eyed Mender I couldn't remove it from my CD-player for quite some time.
i'll never forget how i listened to it 8 times on the day i got it alone!..

it almost makes me want to have a child just so i can give it to them when feeling particularly generous.

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20-11-2006
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"My love, I swear by the air I breathe:
Sooner or later, you'll bare your teeth

But for now, just dance, darling
C'mon, will you dance, my darling?"

My latest favorite lines in a song

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21-11-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jennifer~
"My love, I swear by the air I breathe:
Sooner or later, you'll bare your teeth

But for now, just dance, darling
C'mon, will you dance, my darling?"

My latest favorite lines in a song
That is amazing, she´s such a talented lyricist. Well, she´s talented in more ways than that but I think it´s the way she writes her lyrics that got to me more than anything else.

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04-03-2007
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She is really incredible.... she's almost out of a fairy tale...

I love '' Only Skin ''

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04-03-2007
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Love her!! Her songs are really beautiful and dreamy. I was so surprised when I first listened to her because I wasn't expecting to love te music that much because I don't tend to like folk, but I was totally impressed by Joanna!

I "Monkey and Bear"

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04-03-2007
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i have her album but i still have to get into the music...i think her music is not something you "listen to" you really have to take ur time and let it go to your mind not just your ears...

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13-03-2007
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At first her voice was a bit unexpected, and not in a pleasant way...
But somehow after a few more listens her voice is simply beautiful now ans her music just flows...

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14-03-2007
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you know,if it weren't for the relentless suggestions here,i would have never listened to any of Ys. it's beautiful beyond belief. its been on heavy rotation(next to bat for lashes)...

but i would certainly put this lovely lady up there with the likes of Kate Bush if just on the basis she creates equally otherworldly,enigmatic and somehow organic all at the same time,music.

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