Joanna Newsom- Have One On Me

(Drag City Records)

Because I’m male, middle class and white I like Joanna Newsom. She’s not like all the other women who make a career out of this. She’s not a raging man hater, and she doesn’t flash her enormous burger. On the contrary, she’s quite gentle and whimsical. Her voice occasionally cracks a little when she tries to hit high notes, and she sounds like a shit-scared schoolgirl, who might be a bit… slow. It’s probably an awful indictment on my character that I want to cream her pretty badly. Not that I’m the only one though.

Anyway, she’s just released a triple album called Have One On Me. That’s three CDs full of a girl singing about fairies and shit. Probably. To be honest I never really paid attention to what she was singing about because she lives in fucking la la land and wants to piss about with mountain goats. Or something.

Basically, there’s no reason why this should be a triple album. Most records that need 2 or more CDs to get the job done have a concept, or at least manage to vary the music a bit, like Nine Inch Nail’s The Fragile or Aphex Twin’s Drukqs. But Have One On Me doesn’t have any of that. It might have a concept, but fuck knows what it is, because I haven’t a scooby what the woman is singing about. And there’s very little variation to the record. It’s full of mid-paced, sprawling whimsical ditties. Her voice is a lot more trained now, and as such, the vulnerability which made her pretty endearing before has gone, so now she sounds like an aspergers-ridden version of Kate Bush twanging away on a harp, with piccolos and shit backing her up.

Not that it’s bad. Some of this is really pleasant. It’s the kind of music you can stick on at a dinner party to look sophisticated, and because it’s a triple album that’ll doubtless come in a massive package, you can hide some of your Hessian records behind it to avoid embarrassment. But still, it’s the very definition of filler. There’s no reason why she shouldn’t have ditched some of this, as it’d work really well as something a little briefer. As it stands though, it’s an overlong, occasionally dull misfire. Her first record Milk Eyed Mender worked so well because it was so spartan, and relatively brief. Since then though, she’s taken a prog journey up her ass, and Have One On Me looks to be the culmination of that long, arduous journey.

What an ass though.



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