Joanna Newsom - YS
Joanna Newsom’s latest album is an indisputable work of genius.
It’s also album of the year.
Stop your internal dialogue.
Harmonies, melodies, compositions, collaborations, sonic landscapes, majors, minors, chords, whole notes, scales, 4/4, 8/4, 4/5, 67/30490358345…….
Once every couple years an artist/musician/band will contribute something to the world that not only changes the face of music, it serves as an inspiration, affirmation, and vindication of something that shouldn’t be described with words. Joanna has created this album, and then some. Emerging as the greatest contemporary female songwriter, YS is a breakthrough album.
Originality in musical composition is a goal for every artist - To create your own “sound” or your own “style.” The hopes are that your musical accomplishments will inspire your fans and colleagues, that your music will be respected, and that you, in the long run, provided the world with a timeless contribution. Joanna has achieved all of the above.
Now, it is important to note that this album is not for everyone. You can’t take BC calculus without taking Algebra 2. The fact of the matter is though, that it is so good that it doesn’t matter if you don’t like it. It is beyond the realm of opinion…..god am I embracing this whole elitism thing.
Here’s how I feel when I listen to this album:
I feel like I’m on a planet made of marbles, and I have stepped into a pool of velvety quicksand. Instead of panicking, I find myself comforted. Black clouds turn to white, and it rains cherry blossoms. Meteors break off and float around the magic hour sky, and I am being massaged by the hands of god herself. Then god whispers into my ear in elvish, and guess what, I now somehow speak elvish.
god: velvista humiero continlastigo
jafar: cantilo superiftestic lumincafigarowilben
god: joanna has given you the gift of good tunes
jarar: I know, this album is the shit
Named after a mythical city, the entire album was recorded in analaog, and then transferred over to the digital medium. Perhaps, no, fuck perhaps, this is why the album is warm, why it is alive, why you can give it a hug if you want to. Mixed by Jim O’Rourke, (who is the fucking man by the way), and recoreded at Abbey Road studios, the album’s production values are flawless. Bill Callahan, or (smog), also throws down some vocals on the album. He’s also the one deflowering joanna. Steve Albini recorded and engineered the album.
Van Dyke Parks is responsible for all the arrangements. (Those not familiar with O'Rourke, Albini and Van Dyke Parks should do a quick google search, they are responsible for some of your favorite albums).
With a ridiculous production ensemble, the expectations are automatically high…….good thing Joanna pulls through.
So yeah, Joanna maybe had some issues with her control on her last album, Milk Eyed Mender, well, those issues have disappeared. It is scary how remarkable her voice is. She does it all. Incredible.
Many people would characterize Joanna Newsome’s lyrics and style as whimsical weird freak-folk. I can see where they are coming from, but there is much more beyond this depiction.
With a range reminiscent of Bjork, Joanna’s use of imagery creates a world that we have never known.
And there was a booming above you
That night, black airplanes flew over the sea
And they were lowing and shifting like
As you strained and you squinted to see
The retreat of their hairless and blind cavalry
You froze in your sand shoal
Prayed for your poor soul
Sky was a bread roll, soaking in a milk-bowl
And when the bread broke, fell in bricks of wet smoke
My sleeping heart woke, and my waking heart spoke
Then there was a silence you took to mean something:
Mean, run, sing
For alive you will evermore be
And the plague of the greasy black engines a-skulkin'
Has gone east
While you're left to explain them to me
Released from their hairless and blind cavalry
With your hands in your pockets, stubbily running
To where I'm unfresh, undressed and yawning
Well, what is this craziness? This crazy talking?
You caught some small death when you were sleepwalking
Dylan, Fitzgerald, these are the names one must use to draw comparisons.
Welcome to the world of Joanna Newsom. Welcome to Greatness.
Thank you Joanna.
Authors Note: This month it was going to be either Joanna or Mastodon. Joanna wins, but be sure to chk out Mastodon's new album, Blood Mountain. It's the best metal album in a long time......
Authors Note #2: Please find the songs linked in a word document on the box account. Box doesn't allow songs more than 10MB to be stored, and Joanna, being a badass, wont fit into this limitations. If you have problems downloading it, send me an e-mail, and I'll provide you with the appropriate link.