Joanna Newsom,

Joanna Newsom, Joanna Newsom.
If you’re writing anything in a fantastical vein, or if you have the wee-est drop of elfin blood in your veins, or if you just need something that’s undeniably strange, yet inspirational without bogging down in saccharine muck… you owe it to yourself to check out her astonishing, twitter-voiced, harp-saturated, vaguely hallucinatory compositions.

A few months ago, I downloaded a couple tracks off Ys on a whim. Ten minutes later (actually, 9:08 later, as soon as the first track was done) I was back to get the rest. Have since added her debut, The Milk-Eyed Mender, and her brand-new random EP, Joanna Newsom and the Ys Street Band, to my ever-growing collection.

As far as I can tell, you can grab any two lines from a randomly-chosen Joanna Newsom song and have yourself a bit of poetry of the most awesome sort.* ** *** Her undeniably weird shuddery voice might take some getting used to. For me, it was about fifteen seconds; as ever, YMMV.
And I don’t as a rule like anything in that quasi-Renaissancey Loreena McKennitt vein and harps generally give me hives, so this is highest freakin’ praise here.

* "stretched on a hoop where I stitched this adage:/ ‘Bless this house and its heart so savage’ " ("The Sprout and the Bean")
** "What is now known by the sorrel and the roan, by the chestnut and the bay and the gelding gray?/ It is: stay by the gate you are given/ And remain in your place for your season" ("Monkey & Bear," a truly heartbreaking song)
*** "And all that we built and all that we breathed/ And all that we spilt or pulled up like weeds/ Is piled up in back and it burns irrevocably" ("Sadie")

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About Molly Newman

Writer, cook and trivia/spelling bee hostess, living it up in North Portland.
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