Joanna Newsom

The Milk-Eyed Mender
/drag city; 2004/

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Devendra Banhart never ceases to amaze me. Not only is he one of the most brilliant songwriters seen in a long, long, time but all of his friends seem to be also brilliant and talented. Vetiver's debut album is a Summer's favourite, his Golden Apples of the Sun compilation is awesome and Joanna Newsom just released a hell of a folk record.

It's all about poetry and a harp. And a voice too. At first I was not sure whether I could listen to a whole album sung with this childish, nosy voice, but I quickly got used to it and it is the singular element that makes The Milk-Eyed Mender better than, say, your local Suzanne Vega rip-off. She whispers like she's telling you a secret and suddenly she howls like the early Bob Dylan when he sung about undeniable, universal truths. There's the same determination, with a bit of lunacy, in The Milk-Eyed Mender, the main difference being that the words she shouts are pure poetry. The music is soft and delicate, Newsom's voice is lively and changing, sticking to the words and to the music, sometimes wild like a lion, sometimes tame like the cat purring in my lap.

A bit like The Decemberists' Colin Meloy, she has that magical ability to swallow you in pocket stories with carefully picked words and silverlined instrumentation. Every song has its very own atmosphere and its very own feeling; It’s a real treat to let yourself drift away in Joanna Newsom's very private swimming-pools.

-Barbara H

/aug 1st 2004/