|Price:||CDN$ 18.61 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 35. Details|
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
|2. Monkey & Bear|
|3. Sawdust & Diamonds|
|4. Only Skin|
A new Joanna Newsom album - yes! Well actually, Ys. Pronounced ''ees.'' It's the title of an almost unspeakably incredible new Joanna Newsom album. Five songs, fifty-five minutes, one what-an-album! Ys is to Ms. Newsom a dream collaboration between her voice and harp and a full orchestra - a sound many of us fans have thought we were hearing when listening with closed eyes at her concert performances. Songs familiar to Joanna's following are a big part of Ys, having been performed in concert over the past year - but not with the arrangements you'll find on four of the five songs here. The wide-screen beauty of Ys is due to, among other things, a scrupulously all-analog production involving forty-odd tracks spread over two synched-up 24-track tape machines, mixed to tape and mastered at Abbey Road, home of the all-analog mastering path!
Joanna Newsom's voice--a piercing flutter that's pitched somewhere between Björk and a hand brake--is an acquired taste. But to the uninitiated, it's not nearly as impenetrable as her cosmic poetry or, for that matter, baroque music. The 24-year-old Californian harpist's second album is a five-track concept piece loosely based on its namesake, the mythological drowned city of the Bretons. We say "loosely" because she leaves plenty of room for digressions on meteoroids and birds flying into windows. While Ys was recorded by minimalist Steve Albini (Nirvana, PJ Harvey), it includes lush string arrangements by Van Dyke Parks (Brian Wilson) and the final mix was done by sonic experimentalist Jim O'Rourke (Sonic Youth, Tortoise). The result is an album that sounds unlike anything else. And despite containing spectacularly beguiling songs that stretch out past 15 minutes, every second seems to drip with magic. You certainly don't get that with Ashlee Simpson. --Aidin Vaziri
What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?
Top Customer Reviews
I can't remember the last time I heard an album that seemed to reinvent the possibilities in music itself. I'd like to say it's a ground-breaking album but the style is too 'of itself', creating its own hermetically sealed universe into which it allows us to teleport;so it's hard to see it having much influence on the wider musical world.
I recommend if at all possible that you try and listen to the album in a distraction free environment (yes I'm talking darkened room, phone off-the-hook) it's worth the effort.
Some listeners have referred to the several listens it takes to get in to the album, I found it took about a minute and a half.
Is it folk, prose-poetry,classical or just great pop music? There are perhaps elements of all and more.
A lot is sometimes made of how unusual her voice is, but to to be honest it is more distinctive than strange and it would be fair to say that her singing has become richer and more resonant than on her earlier works(I honestly think that most critics are still reviewing the way she sounded on "The Milkeyed Mender" but she has moved on since then, while still retaining her unique sound).
The album opens with "Emily" a song so rich in imagery and strong in melody it would justify the purchase of the album on its own, conjuring visions of meteorites, skimming stones and raging seas.Read more ›
I'm not going to review every track individually because there is a lot to say. However, on an album with just five songs it is quite possible. The first song is probably the most appealing. It is a song called "Emily". It seems nostalgic and is about a loved one (I think her sister?) who chose a different path in life but a path Joanna seems encouraged to understand and appreciate. The only repeated lines, possibly even considered the chorus, are about the differences between a meteor, a meteorite, and a meteoroid.Read more ›
(backing vocals from Smog singer's bill callahan on "Only skin")
And she strays from conventional freakfolk in her second album, "Ys," by sticking to sprawling, intricate songs that clock in at about ten minutes average, and enhancing her folky sound with... an orchestra. It's a bit like listening to an acid-tripping fairy tell you her life story.
It opens with "Emily," a gentle little ballad that works itself up in a flow of violins. "The meadowlark and the chim-choo-ree and the sparrow/Set to the sky in a flying spree, for the sport over the pharaoh," Newsom warbles. There's a bittersweet note to the hints of loss, but Newsom also fills it with childish wonderment at the world.
Then it's time for interspecies romance in the rippling, meandering story-song "Monkey and Bear," before trickling into "Sawdust and Diamonds." Unlike the shining density of the other songs, this one is stripped down -- it's just a shimmering harp melody, and Newsom crooning softly over it.
Newsom wraps things up nicely in the final two songs. "Only Skin" is a gently expanding ballad that sounds like a medieval song, with an experimental twist. And finally there is "Cosmia," a colourful mishmash of harp, squealing violins, and Bjorkian vocals. "Dry rose petals, red round circles/Frame your eyes, and stain your knuckles..."
Supposedly "Ys" is a loose concept album, about the legendary sunken island -- a bit difference from her Narnian references in her first album. But taken only for itself, "Ys" is a magical experience, as Newsom spins song-stories about pastoral grandeur and magical nature.
Newsom also expands her music in this.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This album holds a special place in my collection. Never have I heard such ambitious, moving, and consistently powerful lyrics on a single album. This is a difficult album to understand for many people, but I find dissecting the lyrics and researching the musician's intent much more interesting and rewarding than anything on the radio these days. As for the music itself, being no music theory major, I can only say that it consistently pulls an emotional response from me; viscerally and intellectually, I find it cathartic, stimulating, raw (no thesaurus used here, guys and girls.) Joanna Newsom certainly does a terrific job on the harp, in composition and execution, and Van Parks' complementary pieces add a certain largeness of sound to the album that matches its largeness of vision.
The vitriol I have seen against Newsom in a few of the reviews here is unnerving and worrying. I would hope that those who do not like her album will in future attempt to logically explain why without succumbing to posting hateful and sexist insults. This does nothing to inform would-be buyers of the album's strengths and weaknesses (if you think the album has any--I personally think it doesn't: it is exactly what it should be.)
Five stars all the way.
If you can appreciate good music (which would never be played on the radio) then this is definitely worth a listen. This album deserves at least six stars.
"Ys" is just amazing - the lyrics, orchestration, her voice. But this is not for the faint-of-heart, nor for someone seeking the conventional. Nearly all friends and family who have heard this album absolutely cannot stand it. I mean, they want it turned off - immediately...so buyer beware...
If this is your cup of tea, you are in for a real treat.
2: It would be a shame if you were put off from buying this by the numerous reviewers who have compared Joanna Newsom to Kate Bush, Bjork, Joni Mitchell, Tori Amos et al. They're all chirpy-voiced females with arty inclinations who eschew "verse-chorus-verse" songwriting, but that's about where the similarity ends. (Although it's easily possible to imagine Bjork and Joanna showing up at the Grammys wearing identical dead swans.)
A better comparison would be with Pavement or Camper Van Beethoven (or the books of Jack Vance, of whom Joanna Newsom has never said she is a fan.) "Ys" has plenty of stilted language, literary allusions and elaborate musical arrangements-sometimes ironic, sometimes not--but they're all used with great care and deliberation, not just thrown in for the gloss of artiness they might provide. That is, I doubt she's including "hydrocephalitic," "diluvian," and "murthering" solely in hopes of getting into Harvard, especially since the available biographical information indicates she's already been to college.
Edit (30 Nov 06): I just noticed this today-- The edges of the "Ys" CD booklet (designed to resemble an antique book) are GILDED. This apparently small detail is probably the most succinct description I could offer of the album's genius.