Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Have One On Me

Joanna Newsom, along with Devendra and CocoRosie was one of the original freak folkers, and she definitely earned her title. she came into the music world a pixie, with the harp as her eclectic choice of instrument and a voice that was.. absolutely adorable to some, abrasive to others. following Milk-Eyed Mender's critical success, much-anticipated Ys had her take a now much larger audience on a dynamic journey, sweeping, mythical, magical. Have One On Me is three discs long, so it's difficult to not call this grandiose as well, even intimidating. but, the huge difference here is subtlety - and that is what makes HOOM's 2+ hours of music very manageable. that symphony that bombarded us with beautiful sounds on Ys, is now under control (thanks greatly to composer Ryan Francesconi). the squeaks and yelps of Milk-Eyed Mender are there but less forceful. her BA in creative writing, as always, is in full effect. but things seem much more personal. more... sad. not a one song is made to be some kind of adventure. there is a distinct lack of hooks, of any dramatic narrative. if you're not careful, all three discs might finish before you feel like you've grasped on to much of anything. and somehow this does not lessen anything. the great achievement of HOOM is that it's a well-composed piece of art that is just fucking beautiful for being itself and offering nothing else - an anti-pop piece. it's a heartbreaking meditation, not designed to have you hanging on every note and lyric. Baby Birch's slow buildup hits in just the right places, rather than overwhelming the listener with emotion. the symphony pops in only when needed on "In California," in which Newsom seems to channel the blues and folk of Joni Mitchell. each and every song contains multitudes of layers, labyrinths of lyrics to wade through. yet, all of that can wait. because for the first several listens, all that you'll need to get out of these tracks is that they make up an album that's quite pretty to listen to. Joanna Newsom has done nothing but mature - this is her most adult release to date. and it's absolutely magical.

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