Joanna Newsom - The Milk-eyed Mender

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During an interview at a kitchen table in Soho sometime last month, Will Oldham mentioned Joanna Newsom as one of his favorite storytellers. At the time, I'd only passingly listened to her two self-released EPs, and was more familiar with her keyboard work with San Francisco's The Pleased and harp contributions to the Deerhoof/Hella side project Nervous Cop. But that's changed with the release of her first long player, The Milk-Eyed Mender. Here, the words to her meandering stories-- disarming in their formal purity, but still highly individualized and eccentric-- elaborate on an aesthetic that evokes French coins, dark maroon leaves, shafts of wheat, and ostrich feathers as much as it references them directly.

Newsom's wonderfully detailed romanticism ("Your skin is something that I stir into my tea"), homespun wisdom ("Never get so attached to a poem, you forget truth that lacks lyricism"), idiosyncratic flourishes ("See him fashion a cap from a page of Camus"), and insights into the prosaic ("There are some mornings/ When the sky looks like a road") infuse each track with the weightiness of an embroidered travel narrative and a private field-recording. Pitchfork 8.0

RIYL Vashti Bunyan, Fiona Apple, Sufjan Stevens


1. Bridges and Balloons
2. Sprout and the Bean
3. The Book of Right-On
4. Sadie
5. Inflammatory Writ
6. This Side of the Blue
7. "En Gallop"
8. Cassiopeia
9. Peach, Plum, Pear
10. Swansea
11. Three Little Babes
12. Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie
Source Album

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