Tweet Joanna Newsom - Have one on me
Gardenhead Sez: Call me Gardenhead. Ladies and gentlemen, we are in Moby Dick territory with this monster. Joanna Newsom's latest album plays out like a determined pole-vault into great American epic territory. I pity that pole; at over two hours and packed with lyrical and musical material of plutonium grade density 'Have one on me' is ridonculously whopping.
Where do you begin with something this vast? Like, what's the jumping in point? Fuck knows. I could mention the fact Newsom continues to address many of her metaphorically stunning lyrics to a mysterious shifting entity called 'darlin'. Or, I could try to make conceptual sense of the album's chronological structure (sorta classic American songwriter pop to start, then kinda free and mazelike harp stuff, then a sortakinda synthesis of what went before, maybe). Or, I could call slimy green bullshit on a smelly dead twig on almost every spouty review I read of 'Have one on me' during the short few days which followed its release (once you consider the fact that Drag City only sent out review copies of this thing the week before it hit iTunes, it's hard to read hacky humdingers like "it's flabby and lacks the conceptual focus of Ys" and consider them written with even a grain of critical honesty). Or, I could waffle about whether or not it's a fine thing that her voice has changed and gone a bit Joni Mitchell now (particularly during some elegant and sunny swandives in the first three or four tracks). Or, I could talk about how that no matter how blindingly brilliant and mature her music has now become, Joanna Newsom remains an objectified squeaky-voiced kleenex receptacle for some; doomed to continually suffer sweaty commentary from insidious sexists who can't get through 300 words about her music without coming out with some choked splurt about her physical appearance. Or, I could note how the album reminds me of Sufjan Stevens' 'Illinoise' or Van Dyke Parkes' 'Song Cycle' in that it appears to consolidate its American heritage by confidently incorporating a range of musical styles that sound to me, as an outsider, as classically American. Or, I could use the hoary adjective 'labyrinthine' as a jumping off point and actually think about it and mean it.
Well, there you go. A lot of potential jumping in points and I'm already pooped. If there is anything to be learned from this aborted review, it's that 'Have one on me' is worth, emm, jumping in to. And while I'm tentative about saying anything grand or sweeping about it, I'll happily give it FIVE GNARLED TREEFINGERS OUTTA FIVE. And I'll blog about some of the individual songs soon. 'Good intentions paving company', 'soft as chalk' and suchlike merit microscopic attention anyway. Astonishing don't even begin to describe those choons.
Corey Sez: I want to bone Joanna Newsom and make her squeak
Tegan Sez: Corey wants me to watch while he bones Joanna Newsom and makes her squeak. Also, it needs more casio
MP3: Joanna Newsom-good intentions paving company