Joanna Newsom, Ys (Drag City)

 |   |  <1 min read

Joanna Newsome: Monkey & Bear
Joanna Newsom, Ys (Drag City)

Arriving at the tail end of last year, this album was too late for it to be considered by reviewers and so has largely gone unacknowledged. But it has appeared on numerous international "best of 2006" lists.

However be warned, this baroque folk is not an easy proposition: Newsom sometimes sings like Bjork channelling Shirley Temple, and with lavish string arrangements by Van Dyke Parks it is as if the Incredible String Band have collided with an orchestra.

Oh, and the five tracks average out to around 10 minutes apiece.

Harpist and singer Newsom presents lyrical and melodic challenges (choruses are virtually non-existent and you'd be forgiven for thinking much of this is stream-of-consciousness), but repeated listening is very rewarding and her vocal quirkiness starts to take a backseat to deep immersion in her magical, pastoral world.

Best entry point may be Sawdust and Diamonds when it is just her and harp, and I leave it over to you to investigate other internet sites for the academic deconstruction of her lyrical density. But Newsom is a unique voice and folk music has never sounded quite so . . .

Well, just never sounded quite so. 

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Lykke Li: I Never Learn (Atlantic)

Lykke Li: I Never Learn (Atlantic)

Recently while talking with one of my sons who lives in Stockholm I asked him what the hell was going on in Sweden, it seems every week I am hearing great music from artists out of that northern... > Read more

Various Artists: Late Night Tales, MGMT (Latenighttales/Southbound)

Various Artists: Late Night Tales, MGMT (Latenighttales/Southbound)

Despite how pleasing it is to see the Chills' Pink Frost here alongside Velvet Underground's Ocean, Spacemen 3's Lord Can You Hear Me? and the largely overlooked country act Charlie Feathers (with... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

CARAVAGGIO, MAN AND MYSTERY (Arts Channel doco): The cut and thrust of art

CARAVAGGIO, MAN AND MYSTERY (Arts Channel doco): The cut and thrust of art

Few 17th century artists engage the modern audience in quite the same way as the man known as Caravaggio. He was, by contemporary accounts, an aggressive knife-carrying and swaggering figure, an... > Read more

RUSSIAN SNARK, a film by STEPHEN SINCLAIR (VM DVD)

RUSSIAN SNARK, a film by STEPHEN SINCLAIR (VM DVD)

Although it would perhaps be possible to write the plot outline of this modest but quietly impressive feature on a very small piece of paper, the protagonists here and a few of the marginal... > Read more