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Ys CD

82 customer reviews

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Amazon's Joanna Newsom Store

Music

Image of album by Joanna Newsom

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Biography

Have you ever seen that movie The Village? Yeah, that’s how Joanna Newsom was discovered. She came out of a dark, impenetrable forest and was so clearly from another century, it was just spooky. Fortunately for all of us, this initial impression turned out to be a complete misunderstanding! Our Joanna is clearly from the 20th century, and today, just like the rest of us, she lives in the ... Read more in Amazon's Joanna Newsom Store

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Frequently Bought Together

Ys + Have One On Me [VINYL] + The Milk-Eyed Mender
Price For All Three: £43.56

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Product details

  • Audio CD (6 Nov. 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Drag City
  • ASIN: B000I2K9M4
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 12,970 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Product Description

Product Description

* Co-Produced by Van Dyke Parks (Beach Boys Etc), Harp and vocals recorded by Steve Albini Mixed by Jim O'Rourke, Mastered by Nick Webb At Abbey Road Studios, London * Package is a CD Jewel case with elaborate 32 pg designed sleeve/booklet enclosed. Lyrics are included. * `Ys' was recorded with a 30+ strong Orchestra.

Amazon.co.uk

If the debut album from Joanna Newsom, 2004's The Milk-Eyed Mender, suggested there was no-one in music quite like this elfin San Franciscan harpist, its follow-up Ys sees that gulf of difference become a universe of possibilities. Recorded by veteran engineer Steve Albini, with strings from Brian Wilson collaborator Van Dyke Parks and vocal contributions from Newsom's current beau, Bill Callahan of alternative country miserabilists Smog, Ys is an altogether bigger, broader, more fantastical and more ambitious offering than its predecessor.

Only five tracks long, songs unfurl into grandiose narratives embossed with trumpet, violins, oboe, and French horn. But what's truly impressive is Newsom's extraordinary sense of command. On "Emily", cutesy observations of birds taking flight ("the meadowlark and the chim-cho-ree") blossom out into tales of falling meteorites, muddy-mouthed baboons and nautical adventures. Meanwhile, on the extraordinary "Only Skin" (which approaches 20 minutes in length) Newsom's voice and plucked harp flourish in strange, complimentary patterns, her voice at times born up on dramatic trumpets and cooing oboes, or for one passage, shadowed by Callahan's cobwebbed croak. It is testing in length, difficult to dip into, and not for those allergic to flights of fancy -- but Ys is a magnificent achievement, one you suspect no one else on this planet could mimic, let alone challenge. -- Louis Pattison

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dragonqueen on 26 Nov. 2010
Format: Audio CD
Well I waited with barely concealed excitement for this album to arrive on my doorstep and I wasn't disappointed. Each song is a beautifully crafted story as Joanna takes you on a journey into a land far far away. Every song sticks in my memory, the imagery and metaphors make for such highly individual tracks that Joanna really can't be held in comparison with anyone else good or bad.

And just another thing to add! The music is beautiful beyond words but everyone seems to forget just how lovely the album artwork is, after all doesn't beautiful music need something just as beautiful to rest in? Truly THE prettiest album I've ever brought, from the embossed cover to the wonderfully decorated lyric book this really is a work of art.

Amazon you left a goddess on my doorstep and I can't thank you enough for it!
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Mr. A. J. Whiteway VINE VOICE on 9 April 2007
Format: Audio CD
This is a fantastic album, a song-cycle comprimised of only 5 songs, but running in at about an hour.

I'm reluctant to even try to describe this album. I think the best example to use is what generally happens after you've listened to it - little melodies, a line perhaps, tend to stick in the mind and won't be uprooted until you've found a quiet place to stick the record on.

I say a quiet place, because the obvious flaw of the album (is it really a flaw though, or is it a sad indictment about music today?), is that it demands your full attention. There are narratives hidden within the songs that overlap with others. There are garnishes of wonderful orchestral backing, but on 'Sawdusts and Diamonds' Newsom's Harp is the only other instrument, save her curious and captivating voice. 'Only Skin' is the album's longest track, a wistful blend of key changes and bizarre instrumentation. Newsom's lyrics are often fragmentary and loose, but suit her style well. Part of the fun seems to be that meanings are difficult to come by, but you will always leave this album feeling more fufilled and just a little bit wiser than you did the last time you listened to it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M. A. Fraser on 10 Jan. 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is a concept album (or a 'song cycle' as the classical world would have it), meant to be heard from start to finish, 5 songs over 55 minutes. First spins of many including me (I'll never forget it!) have the listener thinking 'doesn't this crazy woman ever shut up!'

Then we start listening to the lyrics and reading the gilt-edged lyric booklet, laid out with such precision that you know it's made for reading. It becomes clear... this is poetry set to music, and is best approached in that way. Although some might dismiss Newsom as a fairy princess, yes the words can be mystical but they are articulate, earthy and deeply personal - the first song 'Emily' is a love letter to her astro-physicist sister and positively aches with love for Emily and their father. The orchestrations of the legendary Van Dyke Parks swell and surge brilliantly throughout most of the album.

Although initially this harpist/singer/songwriter was associated with the indie music world, she deserves to be heard by anyone interested in serious (i.e. classical) music. For my part I'm a Verdi and Beethoven obsessive, but it sure is good to be able to appreciate this living poetic musical marvel. I've had this album more than 4 years and it remains a compelling listen.
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70 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Mike J. Wheeler on 16 Oct. 2006
Format: Audio CD
There are some times that I think that I and many other reviewers on here are too free and easy in giving 5 stars to albums. The problem is that when something comes along that is absolutely outstanding then it is difficult to differentiate it from that which is merely VERY good. Joanna Newsom's 'Ys' (pronounced 'ees') is one of those works that comes along as rarely as a blue moon and is not merely excellent but is 'out of this world', an instant classic.

It's all too easy to bandy words like 'classic' around but do I mean it? The answer here is most definitely yes. This is a work that you would call genre-defining - if only it didn't completely defy genre. 'Ys' stands up there with other classic albums (White Album, Pet Sounds, Dark Side of the Moon) as being so original that nothing even remotely approaching it has been released before. This is heady company to keep, but I truly believe that this album belongs in such company. Believe me, this is an album that transcends anything else that you will hear all this year.

Saying all that, will it be successful? It is so original and beyond anything that you will hear anywhere else that it's hard to imagine that it'll get much airtime. The whole album consists of only 5 tracks, the shortest of which is over 7 minutes and the longest of which is nearly 17 minutes long. There is no guitar, there are no drums. Already you can tell that this isn't any ordinary album. The songs are all centred on Joanna Newsom's beautiful voice, harp and background orchestral arrangement.

First, the voice. Joanna Newsom has a distinctive voice, though there are obvious comparisons to Bjork (occasionally you hear Billie Holliday and Kate Bush coming through). She manages to sound child-like and ageless in one. Second, the harp playing.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By J. W. Bassett on 6 Nov. 2006
Format: Audio CD
The Milk-Eyed Mender - Joanna Newsom's outstanding debut album - suggested a gulf between her and almost any other artist working today. The follow-up, Ys, widens that gulf to an ocean.

Spectacular on its own merits, little in The Milk-Eyed Mender suggested what would follow. The cover - a Holbein-esque depiction of Joanna Newsom as a Druid priestess - is backed by a distinctly medieval flavour to the lyrics. Newsom's voice, the major stumbling block for many listeners on her debut album, has traded in its somewhat child-like leanings for an entirely ageless tone.

While her voice and harp remain in the foreground, Ys frames them with a thirty-strong orchestra featuring strings, French horns, trumpets and oboe, courtesy of famed Brian Wilson collaborator, Van Dyke Parks. The way Newsom takes command of such grandiose arrangements, embossing her unusual African-influenced, staccato harp-playing with her distinctive and exceptional voice, is perhaps her most spectacular achievement.

Also highlighted are Newsom's peerless abilities as a story-teller. The pacing, mystery, drama and wonder of opener Emily (a dedication to her sister, who provides vocal harmonies) are only matched by the ingenuous breathlessness of Monkey & Bear. While the tales are undoubtedly peculiar - they are, at first, seemingly impenetrable - Newsom's cadence ensures repeated listens afford fresh discoveries.

Only for one solitary passage of the extraordinary, 17-minute long, Only Skin does Newsom take to the shadows and allow the misty murmur of boyfriend Bill Callahan to take centre stage. Newsom's voice soon returns, lifted upon theatrical trumpets and dramatic oboes.
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