Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me
Drag City 2010
[tags: acoustic, folk, avand-garde, 2010]
Listen while reading:
Kingfisher (from Have One On Me)
Good Intensions Paving Company (from Have One On Me)
One of the most anticipated albums of 2010 is finally available – Joanna Newsom is back with her third regular studio album by the name of Have One On Me. The advertising for the record was really good and everybody will have noticed the release in the forefield. One of the facts that stuck in everybody’s head clearly was the overall playing time of over two hours. Personally I’m really cool with this, but I have to admit that it will take me weeks or months to really get into the album. Often it’s hard enough to really get into a thirty-five minute album and Have One On Me is about four times as long. So I don’t conceal that this review is build on a very early stage of diving into the music – wherefore I deceided to just write a rather short and pregnant review for this long and sprawling album.
First of all, I really liked The Milk-Eyed Mender but did not spend so much time with Ys. I listend to it a couple of times, but it did not hook me up. So I was really anxious to hear Have On On Me for I somehow expected it to be more like the debut. I now see that this was a rather wrong expectation. The tracks reach from 2 to 11 minutes and it seems like a compromise between The Milk-Eyed Mender and Ys for every track on Have One On Me is 7 minutes long in average (the average of Ys was about 11min and of The Milk-Eyed Mender about 4,5min). Whatever this proves, the album is clearly not more accessible due to the huge amount of tracks.
The single songs reach from more experimantal tracks (the title track) to regular folk songs (On A Good Day or Jackrabbits). In California for example is a song that sounds more classical than folky – and this suits the record very well for the whole character is less folky than classical orientated. Or better formulated: the often mentioned combination of neo-classic and folk found another sharp realization that shows how both genres can be combined. But apart from this description there are tracks that draw from the blues (Good Intension Paving Company) and even from soft pop ballads (Esme or Autumn). Outstanding is the only-harp-and-vocals track Go Long with its eastern influences. Overall I have the feeling that the record gets more and more quiet and introverted to the end; the wild parts are mostly found in the first half.
It’s not surprising that I come to the conclusion that Have One On Me sounds just like another Joanna Newsom album – in a good way. And so all the expectations have been fulfilled: Joanna sings like Joanna (maybe a bit more reduced), the instrumentation of the record is as wide as the promo tracks suggested (guitars, strings, piano, horn, drums, harp of course, and so on), the songs need attention to settle in your mind for they are full of ideas, creativity and avand-garde. The last feature maybe makes it a bit hard to let this record become your best friend, because it can sometimes be exhausting to listen and listen and listen…evokes some sort of claustrophobic feeling. Furthermore, Anthony Fantano (from The Needle Drop) said in his current video review “from time to time Joanna Newsom can feel really indulgent to the point where you trying to wonder who she is attempting to entertain – herself or the listener.” And this is a great observation, for some moments are really hard to follow and/or to love – but then, on the other hand, the music is purely Joanna and so it can also be interpreted as a good thing. Deceide for yourself.
Have One On Me is a very good album, maybe not the best release the year 2010 will see, especially not in the boundaries of folk music, but still an album every serious music fan should check out, alone for the richness of the sound and all the creativity within. To get your copy, order it straight from Drag City or get your MP3s over at iTunes.