Was I feeling more poetic, I’d call Joanna Newsom’s music a progressive angelic chant. In reality, people have lauded her for the odd choice of playin’ a mean harp as the lead instrument, for the quirky, child-like voice, the progressive structure of her compositions as well as the surreal, elaborated lyrics.
All of these elements and perhaps even some I’ve missed are in full display on the gorgeous ‘Sawdust and Diamonds’ off her second record, ‘Ys’. Although this is the only song on the album not to feature any instruments other than the harp (not even the meticulously-arranged strings that so enrich the rest of them), it still turns out to be a captivating, otherworldly composition like few other songs that I’ve heard from the past decade.
In fact, I think otherworldly is the key word here. From what I’ve read, young Joanna was not allowed to either watch TV or listen to radio as to be protected from bad influences. And I can totally see how that impacted her music – I always get the feeling that she’s playing and singing to us from her own little world, a world where Lady Gagas are replaced by “white doves made with love and glue” and Lily Allens by “meadowlarks and sparrows”. With each new line and each new melody that blends so naturally into the previous one (reminding of the work of bands such as Pink Floyd or Genesis), she invites us into this world. Whether you will accept the invitation or not depends on your willingness to try something slightly different. As for me, I’m completely hooked at the moment and can’t wait to hear more of her songs.
Categories: The Song In My Head Today