It had been three years since Joanna Newsom’s previous album, Ys. To make up for this gap, she made a triple album, Have One On Me, essentially one single album for each year that she missed. Despite its lengthy sprawl, it was more accessible than its predecessor, drawing comparisons to the likes of Joni Mitchell and Kate Bush, albeit with Joanna's indelible stamp. It should definitely be thought of as an essential addition to any record collection.
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Maximum excitement levels! It's only the follow-up to one of my favourite albums of those daft old 'noughties' and an epic triple album in the truest sense (spread over either three CDs or three vinyls), one which'll take many, many listens to fully unfurl the delights of. To immediately address the issue that's proved most divisive in Joanna Newsom's career so far: those put off by the vocal croakyness of Ys will be pleased to know that that's been heavily toned down, largely in favour of soaring and fluttering lines. Personally I love her dramatic tics and thought they suited the fairy tale feel of Ys down to the ground so I'm thankful that she's still not really interested in the textbook approach and does occasionally cut loose to emote freely within this more controlled context. Song-wise this is a varied set that shows off her mastery of structure with some cuts recalling the winding, meandering structures of Ys and some the tighter forms of The Milk-Eyed Mender.
The one-two combo of the delicate ''81' (a gorgeous, medieval-sounding folk lullaby) followed by the insistent and occasionally borderline rollicking near-soul of 'Good Intentions Paving Company' highlights the range on show (incidentally, 'Good Intentions..' is one of many here on which she rests the harp for a typically idiosyncratic piano). More than ever there are hints of outside influences - particularly in one surprising moment where things turn completely towards Japanese classical music for a brief few seconds - but these are still singular pieces of music with an instantly recognizable source, crafted with stunning economy and attention to detail. As ever, the amazing thing is that when you really look at the songs they often seem to be based around grounded, everyday themes but with her delivery and highly poetic way with words she has a rare knack for making the superficially mundane sound fantastically romantic. Beautifully written, performed, recorded, produced and packaged (in a thick box on both formats) I can only give this opus my highest possible recommendation!
9/10 Penrith Steve Customer review, 9th October 2014
Joanna Newsom has given us an album that is a paradox: Her sound is becoming more accessible, yet it's spread over a sprawling triple album that requires some investigation. Neither of these things, as it turns out are negative qualities, it essentially means she has progressed yet again. Her first album 'The Milk Eyed Mender' was filled with left-of-left-of-centre folk-pop gems whilst her second 'Ys' contatained just five much lengthier songs wrapped in lush string arrangements by Van Dyke Parks which seemed to polarise opinion outside of the music press. (It was brilliant!). 'Have one on me' sees her first move into Kate Bush territory on 'Easy', then recalling the form of her first album on '81' and best of all, maturing as a songwriter and a singer on 'Good Intentions Paving Co', 'In California', 'Kingfisher' and 'Does Not Suffice'. The quality of her melodies is just stunning. I feel as though I could list all 18 tracks and comment on their quality, but I also feel as though I've done enough. An excellent album of depth and beauty.
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- Have One On Me by Joanna Newsom
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