Rainy Sunday afternoon
Nothing can bring me to tears, except music on a rainy Sunday. When I went to buy bread this morning in the drizzle I was looking forward to try that out again with the new Joanna Newsom album. I was in for another teary-eyed afternoon.
Joanna Newsom is different. She grew up in a family of musicians that counted Terry Riley as a neighbour and became a harpist. When she sings it is with a voice that has been compared to Björk's as well as to fingernails scratching on a chalkboard. Her lyrics are made up of dense, archaic verses that sound like anachronistic poetry. A song about het sister Emily, a weird fairy-tale about a monkey and a bear and 17-minute love song,... it's not exactly what you're used to.
"I wasn't born of a whistle or milked from a thistle at twilight
no, I was all horns and thorns, sprung out fully formed, knock-kneed and upright"
Or is it?
And... Steve Albini recorded the album. Let it sink in please, Steve "king of noise" Albini recorded an album of a harpist/singer. According to Joanna, Albini recorded the harp "in an insane and never-before-done manner". We are not surprised. More surprising is the collaboration with producer Van Dyke Parks (who wrote ans recorded the arrangements) and Jim O'Rourke who mixed it all together. The result is amazing and most unusual. Does it really sound like Björk? To me it sounds more like a soundtrack for Bambi. Who cares? Ys is definitely one of the best albums of 2006.