Have One on Me

Have One on Me
Composer: Joanna Newsom
Conductor: Joanna Newsom
Label: Drag City
Release Date: 2010-03-03
Rated: NONE
Genre: Recording

Newsom’s third is a critic’s nightmare. Three CDs’, 18 songs’, two hours’ worth of music steeped in traditions ranging from Baroque to Appalachian folk to Dixieland jazz to early music styles I only pretend to know anything about. Newsom’s primary instrument is a fucking harp, for pete’s sake. What do I do with that? “Good Intentions Paving Company,” a meandering seven-minute cut that takes equally from Motown and Hee Haw with multi-tracked vocals that sound like Kanye West chipmunking Loretta Lynn, is what passes for a typical song here. And the lyrics, delivered in Newsom’s inimitable helium soprano, are every bit as dense and complicated. Have One on Me, in short, is the kind of album you could write a graduate thesis on, composed by a woman who moonlights as an Armani model, featuring several haunting, beautiful love songs presumably inspired by the “Dick in the Box” guy. Buy it now, before we discover it’s all just been some beautiful dream. — Jeremy Martin