NBHAP Rating: 4/5
[one_half last=”yes”]JOANNA NEWSOM
Label: Drag City
03. Leaving the City
04. Goose Eggs
05. Waltz of the 101st Lightborne
06. The Things I Say
08. Same Old Man
09. You Will Not Take My Heart Alive
10. A Pin-Light Bent
11. Time, As a Symptom
Relationship status: it’s complicated… again
Divers, the latest offering by contemporary music’s resident mystic, JOANNA NEWSOM, hits the listener with a barrage of endless twists. this intense guided tour through the NEWSOM dimension is rooted as all her work is in an absolutely unique JOANNA NEWSOM sound, which bears the signature atypical instrumentations all swirling, drenched in quality and humanity, an uplifting reawakening the synapses. The work exists almost as much as a puzzling work of literature as it does a collection of songs in the form of an album. To use a popular turn of phrase quite literally: it’s complicated – but not emotionally turbulent, it is light and complex.
Patience to grasp
The artist, whose hypothetical soul-clan most likely includes the likes of KATE BUSH and OWEN PALLETT, takes her willing audience further down the imaginings of her own intricate garden-universe, one teeming with fantastical happenings and littered with literary-historical Easter eggs stashed with care amongst the brush. As a result, the album makes for no light listening – from the dense lyrical jungles of Sapokanikan Newsom delivers the hackle-raising cadence of Leaving the City. DIRTY PROJECTORS fans will be pleased to see Dave Longstreth’s name in the credits, amongst an impressive cache of others. Each warning, omen or love song seems almost existentially interchangeable, and the artist pulls this trick off all-too naturally. There is a scary level of joy in here somewhere beyond the range of human hearing as well. Much of NEWSOM’s very essence (thankfully) is actually contrary to many of the golden rules popular culture seems to now live by. Hence, the album requires patience to grasp (if possible?) and even begin to understand. Slow-burning and even for Newsom fans, the album itself is a grower, not an instantly gratifying piece of music, but enriching for those who stick around.
The potent barrage of otherworldly content in the artist’s’ output is convincing enough to she truly occupies this space, and that space extends beyond measure into her live performances. Experiencing NEWSOM and her multi-talented band manipulating an array of obscure instruments ultimately culminates in an incredible experience that – oddly – practically leaves the listener to regard her catalogue of recorded works as a mere footnote to the potent live moments onstage which exist fully outside of time and space. My point here: She is currently on tour. Definitely catch her if you can. But in the meantime spending some time with the album will be a rewarding experience. Also: enjoy the video Sapokanikan directed by master filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson, director of Inherent Vice, which JOANNA NEWSOM both narrated and acted in.
Everything but ordinary: On Divers JOANNA NEWSOM once again plays with your expectations to deliver another challenging and deeply fascinating piece of art pop.