Tuesday, December 19, 2006

music: Joanna Newsom Ys good

As I wrote in my Amazon review of "The Milk-Eyed Mender", it's pretty straightforward: Play the Sprout and the Bean video four times in two days, and you'll know if you can get past the vocals. She does sound like Bjork's niece going nuts in detention.

I've been listening to her ambitious follow-up "Ys" all day prior to the concert. The lyrics are fantastic. The music varies, tracks 1/3/5 are standouts; it does meander over the course of the long songs. If anything the orchestrations by Van Dyke Parks (who most recently worked on Brian Wilson's "Smile") are more of an acquired taste than her voice, but they highlight the lyrics and music. She's got a strong command of her instrument in service of her songs, but she's not a harp virtuoso (I saw classical harpist Dan Yu perform, and she's about three times faster than Joanna Newsom).

It's not as balanced as "Milk-Eyed Mender" because the lyrics overpower the rest, but what lyrics. They move from precise natural descriptions (of skipping stones, puppets, meteors, ...) to talismanic phrases of birds and water, to epic adventures.
And, Emily - I saw you last night by the river
I dreamed you were skipping little stones across the surface of the water
Frowning at the angle where they were lost, and slipped under forever,
In a mud-cloud, mica-spangled, like the sky'd been breathing on a mirror

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  • I have no comments to add, except to say that I was moved by reading this, and that I concur.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 23, 2006 12:19 PM  

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