I’m posting this thirteen years to the day after I saw Joanna Newsom’s solo performance at Green Man Festival. It was 2005. There were around two thousand people standing in a field in Wales. I was one of them. Joanna Newsom was playing the harp and singing on the stage. Nothing else was happening in the world. Nobody dropped a pin, at least not that I heard.
Hearing the album today still takes me back to that solo performance, takes me back to a thousand times between now and then. The hypnotic intro to Bridges and Balloons fades in and I can remember that was the first song in my headphones on so many journeys I took. I hear it and I’m on a plane or bus or train with industrial scenery flying past. Then she sings We sailed away on a winter’s day with fate as malleable as clay…
Most of the album is harp and vocal, direct and intimate like you’re in the room as she plays. The harp playing is virtuosic, the songs lyrical and dense, anchored in deep traditional folksy roots. There are spine-chilling moments of transcendent beauty, hewn of rough honesty. Joanna Newsom’s singing is distinct, different from later albums. Maybe it’s a little affected. I don’t care, I love it. Listen to it now. Get everything she’s ever done. That is all.
Drag City – Joanna Newsom
This instrumental post-rock album came out in 2007, but I only heard it after I saw Explosions In The Sky at ATP in 2009. I became obsessed with this album. It’s music to get lost in, rich and atmospheric. I used to put this album on when I was going to sleep. Though it’s sometimes loud and raucous, I still find it melodic and soothing. I keep returning to this album after nearly ten years, so I’m going to go ahead and recommend it to you. Find it in your preferred music format or platform.
Explosions In The Sky Bandcamp
Cycles is the debut album by Any Joy. If you read the About page on this website, you know I’m playing synth in this band, so I can’t claim this is an unbiased recommendation. But Oisin recorded the album before putting the band together, and I joined the band after I had already seen them play live at the album launch. I objectively liked this before I was involved in any way. You should listen to the album right now. But if you get a chance to see us playing live, that’s what I really want to recommend.
If you’re a vinyl person, you can order that on Bandcamp (limited edish). And here’s a music video for ‘Avert Yer Eyes’, the first song on the album. The video was made by Mac Premo Inc., I’m blown away by the way it’s turned out. Amazing work.
Look at them there, a great bunch of lads.
Any Joy Facebook / Any Joy Bandcamp