Have One On Me (Drag City)
With her two-hour-long new album, baby-talky Joanna Newsom demands that we slow down.
Stripped away is the density heard on her last record, and the harpist folkie has slightly toned down her quivering vocals, which can grate as much as ingratiate. Intact are the nature themes fans expect from a singer easily imagined floating barefoot through fogged-over tall grasses – floating, obviously, with harp in hand.
This harp is at the heart of Newsom’s third effort. The main instrument on many of the 18 tracks, it’s central to highlights like Kingfisher and Have One On Me, although those also benefit from flute, violin and piano.
For long-time fans, this three-disc (or vinyl) release won’t disappoint, though it’s not a total departure. If her witchy/infant vocals have irked you since 2004’s The Milk-Eyed Mender, they probably will here, too.
Top track: Kingfisher
Joanna Newsom plays the Phoenix March 13.