on 30 November 2004
Please please please ignore Ugh, the laughingly self-styled music fan. S/he has neither ears nor mind. This album is a marvel, the lyrics, the harp, the harpsichord, but most of all her wonderful voice. To call it individual certainly is to damn it with faint praise. It is astonishing and it is truly beautiful.
on 30 June 2005
I would like to use the whole thousand words trying to justify how good I have found this album. Instead, I think I can only add more weight to the argument by just saying it is good.
OK, few more words. Opinion seems to be fairly divided - a few people are writing to say how much they hate it. I can't quite understand that but accept theres no accounting for tastes (even mine). So,all I need to say is that this CD is actually good.
OK, bit more. It is very nourishing if you give it time and let it soak in. It might also be a bit like when I first heard Astral Weeks and didn't "get it" until the third listen. Then it hits you.
Go on - buy it - if you don't like it I'm sure you can flog it on to someone else using this review.
on 4 November 2005
OK, I bought this record because of the orange advert.
The haunting tones played during a video of new york without power. awesome.
But Joanna Newsome is awesome too. Alittle research reveils that she is a niche country singer with the added twist of playing the harp.
But her lyrics are incredibly deep, and piercing; purveying of some intensely searching deliveries.
Joanna's voice at times is 'harsh' but alway with body and soul.
This album requires a lot of listening to be truly appreciated, but it is worth the effort.
Savour and understand the lyrics which are downloadable from the web. 'just search ggogle for joannea newsome lyrics'
I am not a country or folk music fan, but Joanna's difference is strikingly addicitive.
I don't think anyone will be disappointed.
Well done Joanna
on 24 January 2007
I first heard Joanna Newsom while visiting a friend about a week or so ago. My friend played "Peach, plum, pear" and I remember being fairly unimpressed. I asked who she was and commented on her slightly odd child-like voice. An hour or so later I asked if he had anymore tracks by her, but he didn't. A day or so later I was a tad obsessed, but had forgotten her name. My friend was away, so I began trying to track her down on Amazon. Eventually I found her and ordered this album and Ys. The albums arrived today and I have spent the last hour crying - in a good way (I think). It's just harp, a sweet imperfect voice and simple words, but it's the most touching thing I have ever heard. Simply beautiful.
on 16 April 2005
A harp playing Californian with a voice pigeonholed as a blend of Kate Bush and Bjork isn't going to appeal to all. I bought the album having read a recommendation from Laura Veirs (Carbon Glacier is another great album) and I wasn't disappointed. The music is quirky, bewitching and original. The lyrics and song titles do betray the hippy,folky side of Joanna with songs for example, entitled Sprout and the Bean and Peach, Plum, Pear. The highlights for me are En Gallop a song of great beauty and Sadie. I saw Joanna play at the Glee Club in Birmingham last week and this amazing performance convinced me that she is a hugely talented musician with a great future ahead. Overall if you like to dabble in pop-folk with a twist of weirdness this CD is for you, if you like mainstream stay away.
on 25 April 2004
Like most abstract masterpieces, this is something you will either love orhate. Musically somewhere between Bjork & Stina Nordenstam with thelyrical playfulness and verve of Vic Chesnutt, whilst not ignoringstylistics of former labelmate Smog and always maintaining completeoriginality.
Some people will find Joanna's nasal vocals annoying, butcompared to the Chewbaccaesque histrionics of Aguillera, Carey et al, Iwould far sooner hear someone be themself rather than some pale imitationof the moronic consensus of what a female singer should sound like.
Her joy is as refreshing as hearing any great new talent for the firsttime. Many people will not appreciate this record due to it's minimalistnon-conformism, but I implore you, at least give it a chance. You may bedisappointed, but if you are, It's your own fault!
It is also a lovely record to drift off to in the style of Vespertine orHypnogogia.
Surely the greatest singer/songwriter/harpist album of all time!!!
on 1 February 2007
As you may or may not know, the harp is the most difficult musical instrument to learn how to play. Joanna Newsom plays hers beautifully, especially on 'The Sprout And The Bean', which is the stand-out song here.
Comparisons to anything else are misplaced, and she certainly bears no similarity to Kate Bush that I can detect, other than the fact they both have very high singing voices.
The music here is superb, featuring harp and a whole host of other musical instruments, always perfectly complimenting Newsom's satisfyingly unique dulcet tones , which are incredibly likely to polarise listeners. There probably isn't a middle ground where this album is concerned.
The lyrics are also wacky, to say the least, transporting the listener away to a Carroll-esqe land of vivid, illogical mental imagery. None of it makes a great deal of logical sense, but then it isn't meant to, and indeed, why should it? Gritty realism may have it's place, but so does wilful, fantastic, escapism, and this falls into the latter category. Now that I think about it, lyrically, Newsom reminds me of a female Syd Barret, though perhaps minus the excessive drug use.
One of the most comical moments for me was 'Inflammatory Writ', which sounds so odd and lyrically bizarre that it never fails to appeal to my sense of the absurd. "Even molluscs have weddings", "And unlawful laws have to stutter and freeze floodlit"... honestly, you couldn't dream these lyrics up!
Famously, 'This Side Of The Blue' was used in an advert, and contains more of Newsom's incredibly bizarre lyrics and a remarkably soft, touching vocal performance.
Other odes to oddity include 'Peach, Plum, Pear', in which Newsom's vocal is perhaps at it's highest and most distinctive. It just sounds plain odd, but charming in all it's oddness. It would fit perfectly into a dramatisation of a Lewis Carroll text, due to it's olde-world feel.
The piano-led 'Three Little Babes' also continues this nursery-rhyme/fairytale theme, and continues the remarkably fresh and timeless feel of the entire album. This album could sound unique in any age, of that I'm certain.
Throughout almost the entire album, the harp is present, and no doubt the combination of that, Newsom's colourful vocal delivery and the rather off-the-wall lyrics will not be to anybody's taste. If, however, you are an open-minded, musically adventurous or just plain strange individual, then give this album a listen and let it's off-beat, ethereal atmosphere transport you out of grim reality and into another time and place.
on 12 August 2005
I was first introduced to Joanna Newson by a hapless dwarf who tried to preach to me the deep thought techniques that provoke eternal hapiness. I dismissed most of his views but when he forced me to listen to Newsom I was taken aback with joy. I truly believe she has the most beautiful voice in existance and plays the harp like pele played football. One thing I noticed is that half the time I don't understand what the hell her pretty lyrics are trying to portay, but when I do it is unstoppably witty and most importantly fun. Newson seems to sing about not much important but always about something joyful. I've heard endless criticism that her voice sounds like an angry cat being strangled although after a few listens you wonder why 'inspirational siner/songwriters' like norah jones, joss stone, etc don't sound like her. God knows what she means to call herself the milk-eyed mended but it's a timeless album and may she continue for many years. I truly belive that the sun doesn't orbit the earth but it follows Joanna Newsom.