Album Review – Joanna Newsom: Have One On Me


While only three albums deep, Joanna Newsom has already established herself as one of today’s most ambitious recording artists. ‘Have One on Me’ is eighteen songs worth of material spanning over 3 discs of enchanting stories and delicately played melodies that feel like her most ethereal material to date, but it can feel like an almost Herculean task to get through and can prove a little bit daunting to the untrained ‘Newsom’ ear but for fans its pretty much a musical orgasm. The first disc is probably the most cohesive set of songs with ‘Easy’ showcases Newsom’s strength both in song writing and her piano playing which makes a makes a triumphant appearance as it was almost non-existent on ‘Ys’. Newsom has lost the vocal awkwardness and naiveté that was splattered abundantly on her début ‘The Milk-Eyed Mender’. The title track the is the crowning moment, in terms of fluidity and grandeur with simple vocal/harp intro that turns into a Renaissance jam fest which features instruments from the Middle-Ages such as the vielle and rebec. Towards the end you can almost picture Newsom playing this at a Renaissance Royal occasion full of dancing and mead drinking, some speculate that she has time travelled to bring this brand of music to the uneducated.

Newsom has really challenged her musical chops on this album from the delicate balladry of ‘Kingfisher’ and ‘Jackrabbits’ to the full band Arthurian nature of ‘Soft As Chalk’ . Even with the Motown flavoured ‘Good Intentions Paving Company’ still feels a part of the package she flirts with this style once again on later songs such as ‘Baby Birch’ and ‘Esme’. While the third disc is probably the less enthralling than the other two, the last song ‘Does Not Suffice’ rounds off the eighteen songs nicely and harks back to ‘This Side of The Blue’ where the piano is really the only thing you hear, aside from her voice of course. ‘Go Long’ shines its lament over lost love is Newsom at her most vulnerable, still using the imagery of Blue Beard and Indian princesses and even the karma sutra bounce around her harp and highlight a loneliness listeners aren’t used to. There are also references to fellow folk artist Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy albums ‘Ease Down the Road’, ‘Master and Everyone’ and ‘The Letting Go’ maybe this song is about her admiration for Will Oldham, who knows.


Best Tracks: Easy, Good Intentions Paving Company, Baby Birch, Go Long, Jackrabbits


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