Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Joanna Newsom brings out the child

The earliest of my memories was a surprise that I knew was on its way. My mother could only have hidden her baby belly for so long; yet, I can’t remember what it was like as a small child, of nearly one, to watch my young mother’s stomach stretch and bulge until it one day disappeared, and my young sister was brought home to me. Time began at that moment for me. As I sat on the edge of our brown sofa in my families first home, I frightfully gripped at my sister’s fatty, soft body, fearful that my weakness would allow her to fall the one and a half feet to the floor. Deep in my imagination, I can hear that little person singing a song of a far away land, of the long trip she had just completed.

It’s funny how Joanna Newsom’s new album, Ys, is soundtracking this time travel back to my first memory, given that the opening track is based upon experiences between Joanna and her sister, Emily. Ys, filled with the tender hiccupping of a new born creaking out its initial attempts at communication, rests on personal stories that Newsom has experienced over the last year, or so, of her life. “Monkey & Bear” personifies the fiercest and wiliest of creatures to tell the story of escape and return, where “Sawdust & Diamonds” paints a picture of the warming of long faces between cackles and rolling chords.

With the love affair that so many had with Newsom’s last release, The Milk-Eyed Mender, it has been no surprise that so many have fallen in love with the supremacy of song and lyric that is demonstrated on Ys. Besides the long-winded, detailed stories that make up Ys, the aesthetic that ties it all together so well is the fluttering orchestration of Van Dyke Parks. Known for his vast amount of cross genre work spanning more than 40 years in music, Van Dyke Parks envelopes Newsom’s harp and vocal with flourishes of strings that create an other worldly landscape to the already other worldly narratives. It would be easy to imagine riding along a Disney-esque log ride, following the story lines of “Monkey & Bear” as you go “spelunking down in those caves,” and watch as Bear goes, “sneaking away to the seaside caverns to bathe.” It is no wonder that with compositions this dense with imagination and technique that many are considering it one of the years best.

Joanna NewsomCosmia
[mp3] Joanna NewsomEmily (Live)
Joanna NewsomBridges and Balloons (from the Milk-Eyed Mender)

[mp3] The Decemberists Bridges and Balloons (Joanna Newsom Cover)
BONUS [mp3] Brian WilsonCabin Essence (lyrics by Van Dyke Parks)
BONUS [mp3] Van Dyke ParksCurtain Call (from the Company OST)

Buy Joanna Newsom’s music at eMusic. Be sure to catch her at one of her LA-area dates. Read Pitchfork’s interview with Joanna here. Photo cred.

11/29/06 – Malibu Performing Arts Center (tix)
11/30/06 – El Rey (tix)


Anonymous crazyrabbits said...

Joanna Newsom? Hell yes.

3:27 PM  
Blogger Wayne said...

love joanna newsom, the new record is incredible

3:27 PM  
Blogger Cap'n Guthrie said...

Where'd you get that decemberists cover of bridges and balloons? psyched about that.

11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's off the Picaresqueties EP. It's basically tracks that weren't included on Picaresque.

4:30 PM  

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