Top positive review
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The Shrill-Voiced Singer
on 26 July 2005
First heard Joanna Newsom on Later...with Jools Holland and she blew me away. A winning combination of highly unusual voice, unusual choice of instrument (the harp instead of the ubiquitous guitar) and unusual but highly melodic, enchanting songs, it stuck right out of the usual crowd of dour indie-boys strumming their own egos.
Certainly that voice will not win over everyone - think Bjork as a shrill six-year old on a swing, singing nursery rhymes to an audience of adoring parents - so in some ways it's a bit of a Marmite challenge: you'll either love it or hate it.
I loved it. Fans of afore mentioned Bjork, Will Oldham, Devendra Banhart etc will probably appreciate the tender soulfulness and eccentric delivery while Newsom's blend of folky earthiness and Lewis Carroll surrealism gives her the context to justify the style.
Admittedly, about two-thirds of the way through, that voice can become a little grating and you may wish she could tone it down, just a tad for a song or two.
But stick with it and you'll be rewarded with a highly bewitching, moving, joyful listen.