Day 362: Joanna Newsom – Ys

25 Feb

Only Skin

Well, it took 362 days, but I can finally say that I’ve listened to a record dominated by a harp.  Those who know me personally are probably aware that this has been a dream of mine for quite a while.

I’m always a little wary of “OMG THIS IS THE G.O.A.T.” records, and I figured that Newsom’s use of the harp as a centerpiece would come off as gimmicky. I didn’t have high expectations going into this, and my pre-listen opinion of Ys only worsened when I looked up its track listing—five songs, 55 minutes.  I pressed play with the all too familiar “blerghhhh” feeling that comes with listening to a record that I don’t want to listen to.

But then, shit got real.  I take back every single negative thought I’ve ever had about Joanna Newsom, the harp, that creepy cover, and Ys. Every single one.  The very first thing that will rock your world is Newsom’s voice.  “Not what you’re expecting” is both an understatement, and the only way that I can think to describe it—it’s just something that you’ve got to hear for yourself.  But, you probably have already, considering that this record has been out for ages.

Lyrically, I’ve got no idea what this lady is talking about . . . I know there’s something about monkeys that are afraid of spelunking.  She’s got the voice of a natural storyteller, though, and is capable of rendering her listeners awestruck regardless of what she’s singing about.  What a beast on that harp, too.  I didn’t think it would work, but when backed by a full freaking orchestra, it doesn’t sound too out of place.  Joanna, where have you been my whole life?

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