Review Summary: An intricate, beautiful piece of art; Newsom’s personal lyricism perfectly captivates the unpredictable, frightening and mysterious essence of the human spirit throughout 18 gorgeous tracks that may underwhelm some, yet enchant others.
It’s difficult for someone like to me accept the fact that the squeaky voice imprinted on the grooves of my YS lp will never be replicated once more, for Joanna Newsom’s days of amateurish-yet-lovable vocals are long gone. Being a huge fan of her previous two critically acclaimed albums, Have One On Me unfortunately disappointed me the first time more than the fourth Indiana Jones movie. From the opening vocals to the long, drawn out vowels presented through the album, I was merely bored to tears. Whilst Ys exceeds in excellent delivery of its philosophical literature and vocal composition, Have One On Me failed to draw me in. I tried many times to enjoy the album, and as Ys still remains as my favourite album of all time, I was repeatedly disappointed. Despite this, Have One On Me has won me over in the last few months.
Have One On Me’s fault is that it’s completely lacking in hooks. Unlike the short, sweet melodies of Milk-Eyed Mender, Have One On Me requires a dedicated listen. Though while the jazz elements of Good Paving Providence and the beautifully, captivating final moments of In California may draw the attention of one on the first few listens, unfortunately, the rest of the album draws out at a stale pace that may drive away many listeners, such as myself. As one reviewer on the site already mentioned, “there’s a great album in here somewhere.” Unquestionably it’s unfair to leave the album to shame for this mere reason; though it may be ridden of the joy-esque melodies of the previous albums, Have One On Me is layered with a deep level of sophistication and class that it takes the right mood and surroundings to be truly unravelled.
Joanna Newsom may have developed a new voice, but she’s completely contented in her new style; a transition that annoyed me at first, yet began to settle in once I grew out of my biased opinions. The beautiful lyricism is still present from start to finish, yet presented in a matter that takes patience to unravel. From the bittersweet strain of the title song, to the emotionally draining finale of Baby Birch, right to the very end of Does Not Suffice, Newsom masterfully intertwines her reflective poetry along with her profound harp playing to produce something truly magical; an intricate, beautiful piece of art suited for those whom crave a delicate vocal delivery of facile emotions. The album paces itself masterfully, from its whimsical, mystical and narrative opening tracks, Have One On Me slowly draws out an ominous, reflective and spiritual tone that constantly blossoms until the focus shifts less on the musical composition and hooks, and more onto Newsom’s modest vocals and philosophical song writing. It was a shame it took me so long to appreciate the third LP of this album, though the album requires you to grow with it to fully appreciate its runtime. Have One On Me is best described as a journey of insightful chronicles and enchanting lullabies, each with common themes of loss, love and personal decisions that each listener can resonate with.
While the argument of albums being growers certainly may distress many readers to listen to Have One On Me’s ambiguous lengthy running time once more, I urge those whom are willing to give Newsom another chance to do so. The album only faults in being dissonance at times, and with such a boastful length, it’s difficult to captivate a listener for so long, and at time makes the album difficult to get through. Despite this, Newsom keeps drawing me back into her world every now and then; her exhilarating and exhausting song writing, charming vocals and harmonious craftsmanship makes Have One On Me a triumph.