Have One on Me (Drag City)
Reviewed by Audra Schroeder, Fri., April 2, 2010
Joanna NewsomHave One on Me (Drag City)
With no obvious musical precursor, California harpist Joanna Newsom was ghettoized when her debut, The Milk-Eyed Mender, washed up in the regrettable "freak folk" wave of 2004. She was anointed a hippie-dippy wood nymph with a weird voice, and "indie" crowds approached her like a rare painting in a museum. Her ambitious 2006 follow-up, Ys, arranged and produced with Van Dyke Parks, unspooled like a Disney movie, all strings and sweeping melodies. Impressive and ambitious in scope, Ys gathered yet more converts, but its mock renaissance fair portrait of Newsom reflected an image that had become caricature. On the cover of her third LP, Have One on Me, Newsom's relaxed, sprawled out like a Nevada City version of Norma Desmond. It speaks volumes about a woman's ability to reinvent at certain ages, and in a way, it's her Court and Spark-era Joni Mitchell moment. She's no longer "elfin," finally in control of her unique voice, and the musical poetry on the 18-song tome is more confident, smooth, and emotionally vivid. Gone are the bluebirds on her shoulder, replaced by moodier, sparer arrangements. She's in no hurry, the 3-CD set throwing back to a time when albums were digested in parts, over an afternoon. There's an aura of loss, but Newsom's focused, staying ahead of the sylvan scenery with piano playing that lends a warm coastal air to the upbeat jam "Good Intentions Paving Co." Alternately, "Baby Birch" is a gut-wrenching walk, but Newsom's voice is lullaby-like, no histrionics or regret. "You and Me, Bess" is an accessible blues ballad; "Soft as Chalk" demonstrates she can be more seductive than sweet in the song's evocation of "law-less-ness." Have One on Me runs about five songs too long, which stands out during a two-hour listen, but largely she invites you in rather than challenges. There's some heavy shit being laid out here, but like a good poet, Newsom's wordplay is so masterful you want to sit and take it in.
Michael Ventura, Fri., Nov. 5, 2010
Margaret Moser, Fri., May 24, 2013
Jim Caligiuri, Fri., May 24, 2013
Abby Johnston, Fri., May 24, 2013
Abby Johnston, Fri., May 17, 2013
Austin Powell, Fri., May 17, 2013
Film Review Misses Mark Please make a note not to print any more movie reviews of big action movies by Kimberley Jones. She gets ...
What's the Big Deal? I'm baffled by this obsession with Mueller. I drove through it out of curiosity and it's a suburban nightmare that ...
No Mystery in School Bond Failures How out of touch has the Chronicle become with the voting populace of this city? From the article “Bonds: Death ...
Program Is Vital Resource I am responding to your article on ACCESS News, the program by and for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. The ...
Finding Rail Route Complicated Michael King, in “The Reading Railroad”, while making valuable points, seems to state that finding an initial route for urban ...
- Follow us@AustinChronicle