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Pre-2008 Posts

Joanna Newsom

This is Joanna Newsom, a singer, harpist, and amazing young talent whose music combines elements of folk, Appalachian music, and African Kora rhythms.  She is 25.

These are the lyrics of the song in the video above:

Peach Plum Pear

We speak in the store
I’m a sensitive bore
And you’re markedly more
And I’m oozing suprise

But it’s late in the day
And you’re well on your way
What was golden went gray
And I’m suddenly shy

And the gathering floozies
Afford to be choosy
And all sneezing darkly
In the dimming divide

And I have read the right book
To interpret your look
You were knocking me down
With the palm of your eye

This was unlike the story
It was written to be
I was riding its back
When it used to ride me

And we were galloping manic
To the mouth of the source
We were swallowing panic
In the face of its force

And I was blue
I was blue and unwell
Made me bolt like a horse

Now it’s done
Watch it go
You’ve changed some
Water ruin from the snow

Am I so dear
Do I run rare
You’ve changed some
Peach, plum, pear

–Joanna Newsom

I feel so thrilled and inspired listening to these amazingly talented young women.  Thanks to my daughter Naomi, 16, for introducing me to this music, and to her friend, Sarah, who introduced Naomi to this music. 




10 thoughts on “Joanna Newsom

  1. I love Joanna Newsom! Recently I find myself very fascinated with female singers who have “strange” voices. Joanna’s voice has been described as a cross between a child and a crone, which is my favorite description of it. 😀

    Have you heard The Book of Right On yet? I like how she performs it here.

    Posted by Chloe | November 13, 2007, 7:33 am
  2. heh! I don’t get it. I first came across Newsom when I heard This Side of the Blue, which I love, but everything else so far just floats past me. I can’t get to grips with that “little girl” voice. Its a shame, because I enjoy her lyrics and her harp playing, but as soon as she opens her mouth- no thanks! I’m currently loving Karine Polwart, you might like her too. Pippa x

    Posted by pippa | November 13, 2007, 10:19 am
  3. Hey, Chloe and Pippa! I know what you mean– that voice! I read that Newsom hates it when her voice is described as child-like. When I first heard this song (because my daughter plays it a lot when she’s on the other computer in the office at my house) I thought what the heck. But it was strangely compelling, still. I’d sort of listen each time my daughter played it. Then my younger daughter started playing it regularly — she loves it (she is 9). Pretty soon I found myself looking forward to hearing it and wanting to stop to listen. Finally I thought, who the heck is this! And started reading about her and her work. One thing I like is, it’s so creative and unique. There’s also a sort of haunting quality about it, maybe the way it somehow invokes the crone’s voice in what sounds like the child’s voice, interesting description, Chloe!


    Posted by womensspace | November 13, 2007, 1:25 pm
  4. This is the first time I ever heard Joanna Newsom. Love her harp playing and lyrics. As to her voice, what the heck is right. I laughed at her voice. Will listen more and see if she grows on me.

    Posted by Branjor | November 13, 2007, 2:13 pm
  5. I love Appalachian and I’ve never heard it on harp–very pretty.

    Sustained, her voice picks up some jazz elements. A lot of women in the very old blues and jazz days (think minstrel shows) peppered tinier sounds into their voices. I do wonder if this is Joanna’s natural singing voice. As a vocalist I’ve heard some pretty unique voices come from those who were just searching for a way to stand out–which can be neat but vocally unhealthy.

    Either way, a great deal of character in her voice. Would take some time acquiring the sound to listen to repeatedly but there’s nothing wrong with that.

    I am always particular to hard-edges blues singers. For anyone else who is I highly recommend Beth Hart–

    Posted by pisaquari | November 13, 2007, 2:39 pm
  6. I found Joanna to be destinctive! It’s really fascinating to listen to that odd little voice comgined with harp.

    I love these little U-Tube clips!!

    Posted by Satsuma | November 13, 2007, 5:47 pm
  7. I didn’t like her voice when I first heard it, either, but yes it does tend to grow on you. Her voice is much stronger and clearer and has improved a lot with the release of her latest album “Ys.” All of those songs are gorgeous and this one of my favorites, Monkey and Bear:

    I don’t know if you can tell, but I think her voice sounds vastly different from when it did in her early work.

    The lyrics should be here:
    Her lyrics tend to be really cryptic but my perception of the song is about woman being promised freedom by the man in her life, he eventually betrays her and she breaks loose and claims her own freedom in the end. I have no idea if that’s what Joanna meant when she wrote the song, but that’s what I take out of it anyway. 😀

    Posted by Chloe | November 13, 2007, 10:55 pm
  8. I love Joanna Newsom! Especially the songs “The Book of Right-On.” As for the voice–I think a lot of it is natural, but she also wants it to go with the sound of her music, which is intended to be charmingly other-worldly, fanciful, and whimsical.

    Posted by K.A. | November 13, 2007, 10:56 pm
  9. These new lyrics I think are some of her best! I like the realism she’s coupling w/the whimsy. She is SO unique and sooo talented, I love her too! 🙂 Her first album is incredible, I need to get this one, this is the first I’ve heard from it. Thanks Hearrt. 🙂

    Just as w/physical beauty, sonically there are all different kinds of beauty too. I like how Joanna Newsom’s talent causes people to start to accept other kinds of beauty among voices. You don’t have to have a more commonly “nice” voice to have a “nice” voice. It is so awesome to hear diversity among voices. Alot of people really didn’t like Bjork’s voice when they first heard it (myself included) and now people are used to it and love it and think she’s a great singer (myself included). Anyways love Newsom, I think she’s stunningly multi-faceted. (Singer/songwriter AND musician. It’s hard enough to just be good at one of those much less all three.)

    Posted by Jeyoani | November 15, 2007, 4:37 am
  10. How wonderful…I stopped in a coffee house for a songwriter’s showcase tonight and the house music between sets was Joanna Newsom.

    Posted by pisaquari | December 9, 2007, 5:43 am

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