Monday, March 22, 2010

Joanna Newsom - Have One On Me

Joanna Newsom
Have One On Me
Drag City

On previous albums, I have found Joanna Newsom to be incredibly talented but annoying. On this ambitious triple album, however, her talent just shines through and her voice only occasionally pierces my brain with hot pokers of shrillness. This is an album whose kind of beauty only Tori Amos has ever managed to show.

The album is remarkably consistent. There aren't any tracks that make you want to puncture your eardrums. That is a rather interesting feats considering that there are 18 real tracks, no interludes or weird intros (unless you count "On A Bad Day,"). There are some real standouts like the title track, "In California," and "Soft As Chalk,". Being a mellow affair, it surprises me that the highlights are the longer songs. Normally, that much somberness is too much to take. Perhaps it allows the multi-intrumentalist to really spread her creative wings. The arrangements on those tracks are, expectedly, more interesting as well. This is the album PJ Harvey wishes she sould have delivered with White Chalk.

There are recurring themes of companionship, drunkedness, regret, loss, and death sprinkled throughout the stories within Have One On Me. There are many characters Newsom sings through as to lead the listener away from thinking her transparent. The depths of feeling are hard to ignore but there's very little you should want to ignore on this album.

Track Grades:
  1. Easy - 7.9
  2. Have One On Me - 8.8
  3. '81 - 7.6
  4. Good Intentions Paving Co. - 8.0
  5. No Provenance - 7.3
  6. Baby Birch - 8.5
  7. On A Good Day - 7.7
  8. You And Me, Bess - 7.1
  9. In California - 9.3
  10. Jackrabbits - 7.9
  11. Go Long - 8.2
  12. Occident - 7.8
  13. Soft As Chalk - 9.2
  14. Esme - 7.7
  15. Autumn - 8.4
  16. Ribbon Bows - 7.4
  17. Kingfisher - 8.7
  18. Does Not Suffice - 8.1
Overall Grade = 8.09

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