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Milk-Eyed Mender Import

4.0 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Nov. 17 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Drag City
  • ASIN: B0001KL526
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  LP Record
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews
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1. Bridges And Baloons
2. Sprout And The Bean
3. The Book Of Right-On
4. Sadie
5. Inflammatory Writ
6. This Side Of The Blue
7. 'En Gallop'
8. Cassiopeia
9. Peach, Plum, Pear
10. Swansea
11. Three Little Babes
12. Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie

Product Description

The official debut album from gifted singer, songwriter, and harpist JOANNA NEWSOM. Twelve engaging tracks rooted in the folk of the 1960s and the current bluegrass revival, but on a plane all its own. Whimsical themes meet with a playful approach, the harp's plucked beauty and Newsom's one-of-a-kind vocal delivery.

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By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on Feb. 22 2007
Format: Audio CD
Joanna Newsom is one of the weirdest folksters around today, with her trippy little pastoral melodies and that incredibly weird, stoned-fairy voice. And with "The Milk Eyed Mender," her debut album, Newsom embroiders a series of offbeat little harp songs with her unique lyrics and wonky voice.

"We sailed away on a winter's day/With fate as malleable as clay/But ships are fallible, I say/And the nautical, like all things, fades," Newsom sings mellowly in the opening song, over a plucky harp melody and a soft murmur of other instruments. She sings of crabby canaries, Narnia references, and "a thimble's worth of milky moon."

From there she veers into the trippling ballad "Sprout and the Bean," before slipping off into more eccentric harp-folk, laced with constellations, dragons, and "the book of right-on." She dabbles in haunting bluesy pop, languid little ballads full of nature's beauty, bizarre piano lo-fi stuff, shimmering folk songs like "Swansea," a countryish folk song, and mischievous and joyful organ pop.

Joanna Newsom is not for the timid or the closed-minded, the sort who think that the best music is the easily-digested stuff they show on MTV. Because this is the exact opposite -- sparse, melodious little tunes that tripple along in unpredictable ways, with a very atypical voice trilling behind it.

The main instrument here isn't guitar, as it is with most folk music -- it's harp, played with an echoing beauty with the occasional soft sweep of strings or synth behind it, and some piano adding a music-hall flavour. And Newsom can bend the harp to whatever sound she wants -- angular as a country guitar, gentle as a brook, soft, rippling or hesitant.
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Format: Audio CD
There seems to be a high tide of young, female singer-songwriters rising everywhere, and Joanna Newsom is another wonderful example of it, a young woman making intelligent, daring and emotionally honest music -others I'm thinking of and recommend wholeheartedly are Laura Veirs, from Seattle, Jolie Holland, and UK's own Polly Paulusma.
Newsom, in addition to her abilities as a composer, is an accomplished harpist, which she showcases very appropriately throughout this -her debut- album. To me, at least, it's interesting how an instrument so seldom used sounds so beautifully fitting and gives the songs included here such distinct and soulful touch.
One thing I've found somewhat misleading, after having heard this album, is the several references I read about her music being described as "psych-folk." If you have read such comments too, I suggest you think of her as some sort of descendant of Donovan or Vashti Bunyan: someone capable, as those mentioned were, of creating wondrous worlds through her lyrics and enchanting moods with her melodies.
The only element that, I believe, is worth cautioning you about is her voice, that in certain songs -definitely not all- may bring to mind what Mojo Magazine depicted as a young girl trying to sound like an old woman, and which I'll describe as reminiscent of Melanie circa Woodstock. This, at first listening it took me a certain getting used to.
All in all, Joanna Newsom is another singular new voice coming out of the same talented scene that has given us Devendra Banhart and the group Vetiver, fellow artists hailing from San Francisco and making music just as wonderfully theirs and impressively mature already, as "Milk-Eyed Mender."
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Format: Audio CD
Joanna Newsom will never find a popular audience. The idea of a classically-trained singing harpist who plays American folk music would pretty much guarantee that, but Newsom's vocals are also an acquired taste-- of the sort that probably causes most fans to endure accusations of just trying to be hip, and not actually enjoying the music.
However, if you take in some of the samples and decide that you find Newsom's voice charming rather than grating, you're in for a special treat. For a young whippersnapper, her music manages to include many sophisticated elements, including a pleasantly reverent, old-timey, Appalachian sound that lingers beneath the atmospheric melodies. The American south that Newsom creates is highly idealized, but never so decrepit or depressing as to be gothic.
The lyrics are as important as the music, and although they can sometimes be frustratingly obscure, they are often disarmingly witty ("like a slow, low-flying turkey/ like a Texan drying jerky"), and even make ironic use of the pretentious academic jargon that seems to have become the lingua franca of 'empowered' college women these days. Yes, it's smart and artsy, but it's also genuinely fresh and engaging. Keep up the good work, Ma'am.
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Format: Audio CD
Joanna Newsom has been a figure in the Bay Area music scene for a while. She has played with The Pleased. She has toured with Cat Power and Will Oldham. She has played on records like Vetiver and Nervous Cop. She has been a force in the new folk scene that was spearheaded by Devendra Banhart. She is twenty-one years old and she has released a half dozen records. Her own material was separate and unique. She self-released a few CDs to sell at shows. She recorded these herself without knowing much about production. They are just voice and harp. Those two CDs would get around the world by word of mouth. Soon she was signed to a real label and had to take off some time from The Pleased. This record is a better recording than her previous stuff. She went into a real studio to do it. The vocals are doubled sometimes. There are additional instruments. It is not over produced or over arranged. It is still raw. It takes the best songs from the past and adds a few new ones. It is a great debut.
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