I bow before you, Ms Newsom

After listening to Joanna Newsom’s new album, it struck me: Whenever a band releases an album with two CDs, the first thing we have in mind is “damn, they wrote too many songs to fill one CD and had to do another one but it probably weren’t that many songs, so a lot of it will be fillers that kinda try to hide the fact that the second CD is just there to have three good songs (tops) on the album”.
Whenever we see a triplet, though, we go completely mental and grin so much that the bottom part of our face is in danger of falling off. Because an artist who releases a triplet had to have a plan.

Like Joanna Newsom.

Thanks to EnigmaticOddity for recording this beautiful song (live versions rule!)

Her new album “Have one on me” is mindblowingly tripletty.
I liked her debut but I gotta admit, at times her very unique (and wonderful voice) was just too much for a whole album.
However, on “Have one on me” it seems, as if she has found many new ways to play with her voice, it’s incredible how much blues this gal has now and then, only to change the vocals to some medieval chants and fall back to her quirky siren’s call.
The compositions are flowing into each other, I haven’t listened to the album often enough to have favourite songs so far, because whenever I start listening to it, I get sucked into her world and end up listening to the whole album.
This might be a challenge for anyone who favours one or two songs to get into an album and it’s a challenge for me already, because I basically want the whole album on rotation at my local radio station but 7-minutes-songs have next to no chance to air before 22pm and after 5pm.
But – and I feel as if I repeat myself – in times of “3 and a half minute songs”, it’s so important to have music that challenges you to take some time and really get into it.
I remember, that I listened to the opener “easy” and actually “wow”-ed into the emptiness of my room and I was actually excited, like a kid that opens the first page of a new book (I am talking about my naive world where children still read).
You’d think that more than two hours of music can get tedious and boring but all those ideas of her are strewn in like seeds on a field only to blossom in spring, or – to end this metaphor – to blossom when you listen to the songs.
There are so many moments of surprise – for example when you think you detect Asian inspiration in the instrumentals or the vocals, or when a soft-spoken Joanna gets interrupted by a playful array of flutes – and all bedded in the overall feeling that you are safe in her company.

copyright by lalala (well, that was the name on flickr)
copyright by lalala (well, that was the name on flickr)

“Have one on me” is like a happening, it actually feels like you are experiencing something that you won’t experience ever again (fortunately, there’s a repeat button on our music players) and all those influences, genres and reminders are airy like a waft of mist, as soon as you think you know, it changes direction.
The arrangements are wild and epic and very close to classical compositions in the way that they play with climax, trick you with uproars only to fall into a ethereous singalong and refrain back to quiet whispering.

Joanna’s harp – of course – is always with us and still manages to sound like a harp but also like a guitar or even like a harpsichord. It’s refreshing to hear something so good-natured but also so elaborate. “Have one on me” is just as much work for the listener as it was for Ms Newsom and I thank her for that because it means that I keep on listening, only to figure it out …someday.


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