Showing posts with label joanna newsom. Show all posts
Showing posts with label joanna newsom. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

video review: 'divers' by joanna newsom

Man, this album took a lot to untangle, but it was definitely worth it. Highly recommended.

Next up... you know, that M.E.D., Blu, and Madlib record looks interesting, but I still have a bit of old business I want to handle... well, we'll see. Stay tuned!

album review: 'divers' by joanna newsom

I've been hesitant to cover this record.

Hell, I've been hesitant to cover Joanna Newsom in general, who I knew more by reputation than anything else before I started doing my research for this review. I knew she had one of the most idiosyncratic voices in folk music - a bit like a cross between Bjork and Sia but more rounded and warm - and I knew she had amassed a lot of critical acclaim for her vibrantly detailed, excellently witty songwriting that probably runs as close to twee as I'd ever tolerate... except for the fact that she also happens to be an incredibly gifted composer utilizing her harp and a lot of gorgeously rich instrumentation to compose layered, gorgeously polyrhythmic songs drenched in English and Celtic folk.

Now the majority of this is right up my alley, and thus when I finally started listening through The Milk-Eyed Mender, I did find a lot to like, even despite a few minor missteps when it came to instrumental tones that clashes Newsom's unique vocals. Then came Ys... and on the one hand, I liked the more opulent orchestration for how well it could match the dramatic swell of the writing and Newsom's more strident tones, but there was a part of me that missed the quieter, funnier witticisms that ran through her more stripped back material. The album started to pick up the feel of meandering pastoral indulgence, focusing more on intricate detail instead of the overall whole, which seemed to reach critical mass on the triple album Have One On Me that she released in 2010. And here's the thing: yes, over two hours of music can be long, but it's one of those releases that really works better considering each disc as an individual release with its own musical motifs and underlying themes, and really, they don't feel as long as you'd think, especially if you're poring through the lyrics at the same time. That said, I do understand why some think the quieter second disc can drag a bit, especially compared to the more elaborate instrumentation of the first and the slightly brighter tones of the third. And when I heard that Joanna Newsom was pursuing even more elaborate, layered instrumentation on her newest album this year... well, I was interested. At the very least, it'd probably sound beautiful and be a rewarding exercise in poetry, so I dove into Divers - what did I find?