Monday, 1 March 2010



It took me years to be kind about Joanna Newsom.  There was always something very conceited in her listenership, which led to what I regard as Morrissey fan syndrome and the emotion of disliking an artist because of their following and fanbase instead of their actual output and content.  I know, my bad.

On that note, Have One On Me is not the most crisp of releases.  I genuinely believe now that the novelty element of her appeal has gone her original audience feels a bit lost.  She is just no longer indie.  So how does she respond to this?  She releases a triple album.  There’s no lack of ambition in this lady.

I guess maturity is the key for Newsom now.  I have always argued that her voice be best suited to a Disney soundtrack rather than a sweaty gig and from the off here I can’t help but feel vindicated and proved right.

There is no question that her sound remains unique and thus there is a lot to grip onto, it’s just about placing.  And thus it only works at a certain time.  As I have always said about music: I want the music to put me in the right mood, I don’t want to have to be in the right mood to be into the music.

I will now negotiate the record in one go.

She sets here stall out early with a new found string section on “Easy”.  I can’t help but envisage some combination of Kate Bush and Belle from Beauty And The Beast.  Now I am sure this appeals to many people on many levels but a cynical hating the world punker is not going to find his edges softened by such an orchestral and overblown set of proceedings.

Then arrives the title track clocking in at just over eleven minutes.  There is to be no patience spared with this record.  This is the person going out with Lonely Island?  Quite the contrast.

By this stage my room has experienced a weird kind of aura.  I fear that at some point a person (a neighbour or loved one) my burst in to find me sat here listening to these songs semi knackered in my tatty white bathrobe that smells.  See, even I cannot taint the supposed beauty of proceedings.

Have One On Me is a term that I would more expect from Chan Marshall.  It’s a boozy title that suggests a willingness to give rather than take.  And yet it’s a fucking triple album!

Ultimately ambition outweighs execution as tedium arrives before the end of the first disc.  By now listening to this record has become a test of endurance I am not quite sure I can withstand.  Keep saying to yourself: “its just a record, its just a record”.

Eventually things meander onto the second disc where still there appears no hooks and no choruses.  Just what am I looking for in this?  Somehow she manages to make a track that lasts one minute and forty eight seconds feel like five.

Still I continue my search for a moment when Newsom strips back the arrangements (such as on “In California”) they begin work but overall you just wish she were being me economic with things.

Finally we there is a hook on “Jackrabbits” by which stage Newsom has taken on something of a Joni Mitchell approach to proceedings.

By disc three I have long since had my fill.  On “Soft As Chalk” it sounds as if she started tap dancing.  Is that really appropriate behaviour?

At the eleventh hour “Kingfisher” arrives as the staring track of the release but it’s just far too late to save the day.  Life is just too short to lose yourself in such a vast and indulgent project.  What are people seeing and hearing in this?

You have to be really happy to enjoy this record.  I am not.

Thesaurus moment: obese.

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