Friday, March 12, 2010
First Thoughts On Joanna Newsom's New Album "Have One On Me"
I wasn’t sold on Ys, and the fear is that the new album was going to be more like that than The Milk-Eyed Mender, but still, I took the chance and bought it. I haven’t really listened to it properly, I just played it today from my iphone as I worked, so all I got was a sense of the sound and not of the detail, but I’ll get to that.
First things first, some one mustn’t have told them that album art is dead. This 3 disc set kind of made me wish for proper vinyl album so I could enjoy the packaging a bit more. Apart from the elaborate photo evoking some Parisian artist studio, each disc comes in it’s own slipcase with a photo on it of Joanna showing of her long legs and good posture, plus a photo on the booklet, so that it makes a series of 4 photos of her tying up her hair. Evocative and sensual, it hints at a world we’re about to explore on the discs. There’s something innocent and knowing about them, a staged candidness that elevates the pedestrian to the sublime. Or she she’s just got real pretty legs.
As for the music, it’s definitely more Ys than Milk Eyed Mender. But as I said, I haven’t really given it a proper listen. I’m not sure if it has any of the monstrously bloated tracks that appeared on Ys, but I don’t think it does.
I realise that in fact, there was really only the one monstrously bloated track on Ys, actually, no I just checked, 2 of the tracks go over12 minutes, and a third is only a few seconds short of 10. The fourth cracks the 7 minute mark. It was a dense album, with the tracks not giving you much space to access them., and without the whimsy of Milk-Eyed Mender. I find it a hard album to listen to, it’s difficult to engage in.
I don’t think Have One On Me has the same problem, though it’s difficult to say at the moment, as one song tends to blur into another when you’re scrubbing toilets and emptying bins., but it seems an easier listen. Though I fear with it being a 3 disc set, the accusation of bloated may once again apply.
The opening track put me in a mind of Tori Amos and Kate Bush, both with her vocals and the arrangements. I think she used a similar vocal approach maybe on Ys, but can’t remember. Though she doesn’t use it all the time here. Her familiar vocals from Milk Eyed Mender (and Ys) are here as well. The arrangements from what I can discern seem to be the more elaborate type familiar with Ys, but perhaps not as bloated, though I’m not sure that’s a fair description. Anyway, I can’t really say much more at the moment, maybe I’ll have more to say when I’ve had a proper listen to it this week coming. But it holds promise, I think.