Have One On Me
For a woman with a harp, Joanna Newsom polarizes audiences with greater efficiency than an indie-rock quarter armed with oversized amps and squealing feedback. Her songs are epics, twisting and turning with unexpected detours into classical motifs that jar the rhythmic flow. Her voice has become more mannered and able to soothe like a folk maiden on her third studio album, the 18-track masterwork Have One On Me. Fourteen of the tracks pass the six-minute mark, with eight minutes being the normal range. Newsom’s removed the Van Dyke Parks orchestrations of 2006’s Ys and settled often at the piano where she takes Tori Amos’ mysticism and elusive melodicism to another level. The title track is eleven minutes that float in several different directions. The just under four minutes of “’81” skates like a reflective early-‘70s piano ballad. “Good Intentions Paving Company” opens up like a majestic Joni Mitchell For the Roses-era type piece with backing vocals and subdued backing instrumentation that suddenly bursts through in the final minute. “In California” recalls the gentle end of the Laurel Canyon folk scene of the late ‘60s. Newsom goes forward by reaching back.