Joanna Newsom
The Milk-Eyed Mender


4.5
superb

Review

by ChutesTooNarrow USER (2 Reviews)
January 22nd, 2006 | 17 replies


Release Date: 2004 | Tracklist


Joanna Newsom is one of very few artists to have created a genre all her own. "The Milk-Eyed Mender", her first LP, is an adventure in a storybook.

With not much else than a harp in her hand, Joanna Newsom created 12 beautiful tracks on this album. Utilizing her background in classical and folk music, her off-beat wit and intelligence, she fuses so many odd components together, that the result is something truly inspiring.

I'll be the first to admit that upon my intial listening of "Bridges and Balloons", I decided to not even bother giving the rest of the album a listen because I found her voice so unbearable. But then I listened to it again. And again. And the more I listened, the more foolish I felt for shrugging it off so quickly.

It's an aquired taste, to be sure. Untrained and unconventional, Newsom's voice makes it seem as if a shivering 6 year old is telling you a story. But the more you listen to it, the more it feels as if that's how it was meant to seem.

Even if you don't particularly fancy her vocals, her harp playing is undeniable. With nearly every song, she serenades you with non-traditional harp melodies, sending you into a dream-like state which can only be brought about by the serenity of a brilliantly eloquent harpist.
The combination of her quick wit and poetic obscuritys, are what can induce the feeling of peace and nostalgia while still incorporating melancholy, if not cryptic, attitudes.

One such track, "The Book of Right-On", is a simple song and one of the few that contains more than just a harp. It has a mysterious team of guitar and harp riffs which create a feeling of mystery with her usual abstract lyrics:

"I killed my dinner with Karate -
Kick 'em in the head, taste the body;
Shallow work is the work that I do

Do you want to sit at my table?
My fight and fame is fable
and fortune finds me fit and able"

"Inflammatory Writ" is a track which is most different from Newsom's usual style and a contributor to the reason this album is hard to classify. Lead soley by piano, this song is fast, quirky, while still holding many underlying meanings.

"Bridges and Balloons", one of my favorites, is a song that takes you sailing out to sea with the same childish simplicities and beautiful lyrics as the others.

"We sailed away on a winter's day
with fate as malleable as clay;
but ships are fallible, I say,
and the nautical, like all things, fades

And I can recall our caravel:
a little wicker beetle shell
with four fine maste and lateen sails,
its bearings on Cair Paravel "

Alongside "En Gallop", "Three Little Babes", "Cassiopeia", "Sadie" -just to name a few.

What I find most enjoyable about this album is that it is clear that she is educated, intellegent, and talented. Her music is reminiscent of those who make music because it is a passion rather than a profit

So if you've tried to listen to this album before, but we're thrown off by the vocals-as so many before you- then I suggest you give it another go. It is worth it if you can accept this unconventional approach to folk, the harp, and indie in general.


user ratings (273)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
Victoria Michelle Coia (4.5)
Joanna Newsom's proves with The Milk Eyed Mender that she is a singer/songwriter to be reckoned with...

Michael Jordan (GoAT) (1.5)
Vocally – a demented she-gnome or the half-idiot sister of a Laura Ingalls frontier family. Instr...

Kalle J. (4.5)
Joanna's first pack of stark and intelligent handiwork wiggles its way splendidly into 'The Milk-Eye...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Zebra
Moderator
January 22nd 2006


2647 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Your review was brief, but it was also effective. I like how you described the vocals, but I think she sounds like an 80 year old Chinese women on drugs.

To be honest I don't really like this album. It sounds really neat and strange at first, but I think it loses its effect quickly. However I really enjoy the overall strangeness of the album, and the I'm on and off with Newsoms shrill vocals. This Message Edited On 01.22.06

analrightstart
January 31st 2006


96 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i have just listened to this. its brilliant.

her lyrics are something quite special. as is the music accompanying them.

the voice caught me straight away. i hope it doesnt get old soon.

The Profit of Maine
April 12th 2006


5 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Her poetry on this is fantastic and while I don't think it entirely works, it is definitely worthwhile.

Great review, too This Message Edited On 04.12.06

FA
May 14th 2006


127 Comments


Nice review. I have yet to hear Newsom and after taking a glance over this I fancy I might just have too.

The Jungler
May 27th 2007


4827 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This album is cool. Glad I finally got it.

Slaapkamers
May 27th 2007


596 Comments


One of the best albums ever is pretty cool yeah.

plane
Staff Reviewer
August 25th 2007


6099 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This is so good. Easily her best.

blackmilk
August 25th 2007


584 Comments


it is.

kalkal50
October 4th 2007


2386 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this album is amazing so far

Yyy
October 4th 2007


289 Comments


lol

kalkal50
October 15th 2007


2386 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

come to think of it, she should growl and utilize palm muting

gaslightanthem
May 1st 2009


5209 Comments


joanna gruesome

Roach
October 27th 2009


2148 Comments


rofl

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
January 10th 2010


15068 Comments


so good

natey
February 26th 2010


4170 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

And the rest of our lives will the moments accrue
when the shape of their goneness will flare up anew

eternium
May 12th 2010


16338 Comments


So that you can be made a mockery of this site again?

Brylawski
May 12th 2010


709 Comments


this is awful music

i've tried but i will never, ever, enjoy this



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