Review Summary: Joanna Newsom's proves with The Milk Eyed Mender that she is a singer/songwriter to be reckoned with.
Before I had even heard Joanna Newsom’s music I saw a picture of her and I thought to myself what an oddly attractive woman. She had her hair in pigtails and her eyes had a very beautiful color to them . I had no idea that she sounded like a squawking parrot and a squirrel combined. However, there is something interesting about Newsom’s music that makes it stand above other female folk singers’ music of her generation. Maybe it is her voice or maybe it is her harp and piano playing skills, but I think it is her storytelling ability that sets her apart from other folk singer/songwriters.
Newsom has the capability to tell a wonderful story on just about any subject that comes across her mind . Her lyrics are all over the place and it shows her versatility as a songwriter. At times they are wonderfully romantic, “Your skin is something I stir into my tea,” and other times her lyrics are providing wise advice, “Never get so attached to a poem you forget truth lacks lyricism; never draw so close to the heat that you forget to eat.” As wonderful as a songwriter Newsom is what helps make her music even more interesting is the use of both a harp and piano.
Right away it’s easy to tell that Newsom isn’t the most technical harpist or pianist, but it really doesn’t hurt the music because the music that is being playing doesn’t call for it. In fact, it helps the music as a whole because this way the harp or piano playing doesn’t distract the listener from her lyrics. While Newsom isn’t the most technical or best harp player she certainly knows how to play the harp and piano. Songs such as “Bridges and Balloons” and “Inflammatory Writ” wonderfully display the talent Newsom has at both instruments. However, Newsom knows that she is a songwriter first and The Milk Eyed Mender wonderfully displays it.
It’s true at times The Milk Eyed Mender can be grating at times because Newsom doesn’t have a gentle voice at all, and at times her voice can be quite comical on songs such as “Sadie”. Luckily, Newsom is a wonderful songwriter and a talented harpist and pianist, and she puts it on full display with her debut album. She also knows how to wonderfully arrange songs and make them addicting. The Milk Eyed Mender is an excellent debut from Joanna Newsom and a blueprint for what is to come in the future.