Joanna Newsom: Have One on Me
Never in my life have I heard a voice as mystical as Joanna Newsom’s. Blending harp, piano, and other lovely instruments with her heavenly voice, she creates beautiful and completely unique sounds. If you’re tired of the same ol’ pop, R, or rock songs, here’s your chance to delve into the realm of folk music.
Joanna Newsom is a queen of indie folk, with songs evoking such strong emotion that I succumb to the melodies almost instantly. Her recent album, “Have One on Me,” is a collection of songs inspired by her break-up with folk singer Bill Callahan, resulting in an album with a tone of haunting sorrow.
Newsom creates songs with long rhythmic stanzas that beautifully flow together. With no chorus, each passage is crafted to fit that part of the song, and even repeated parts have a unique composition.
Her one-of-a-kind voice cannot be copied. In past albums, her nasal tones and high-pitched tangents dominated, which was annoying at times.
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But here, Newsom appropriates her powerful voice.
My favorite song is “Baby Birch,” which many fans speculate is a tribute to a child she lost by miscarriage. The slow, sultry intro immediately informs us of her sadness, and the harp adds a delicate vulnerability. I think the slow pace forces the listener to pay attention to every syllable. “This is the song for Baby Birch/Oh, I will never know you/And at the back of what we’ve done/There is the knowledge of you,” she sings poignantly.
With her somber songs, Joanna Newsom touches my soul in a way no other musician has. But she also has a flair for upbeat, playful tunes, such as “Good Intentions Paving Company.” It’s the perfect example of how Newsom harnesses her voice to convey excitement to anyone who hears it.
If you’re looking for a new indie folk artist who will rejuvenate your soul, Newsom is unparalleled.