Thursday, March 11, 2010

Joanna Newsom in the NYTimes

Joanna Newsom, the Changeling

Jody Rosen, New York Times, March 3, 2010

"There is no shortage of Joanna Newsom Theory. Newsom is among the most critically lionized American musicians to emerge in the past decade. (This year, Roan Press published “Visions of Joanna Newsom,” featuring essays by Dave Eggers and other admirers.) She is certainly one of the most singular. She’s a classically trained virtuoso on an instrument withJoanna Newsom, the Changeling little meaningful popular-music lineage. She writes sprawling songs, unhinged from verse-chorus pop form and crammed full-to-bursting with lyrics that owe more to John Donne and Anne Sexton than to any songwriting sources. All of this would seem to relegate Newsom to the high-art avant-garde hinterlands. Yet she is an indie-rock star: “The Milk-Eyed Mender” and “Ys” (pronounced “ees”), from 2007, sold 200,000 and 250,000 copies respectively, huge numbers for independent-label releases, especially in the anemic 21st-century record marketplace. But sales figures don’t tell the whole story; her popularity is a phenomenon of depth, not breadth. To the members of her cult, Newsom inspires the kind of exegetical fervor that Bob Dylan did in 1966 — fandom on the high-rock album-era model, with devotees who pore over the runes of lyric sheets like Talmudists."

The rest at: Newsom&st=cse&scp=2

[I don't see any references to Loreena McKennitt, which surprises me -- she's not an indie-music darling, but she's been mixing and matching themes and styles and traditions and influences for decades.]

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