Rare or Unreleased 47: Joanna Newsom

Joanna Newsom: Early Recordings [.zip]

Tonight, it's off to see nu-hippie/Freak Folkie-cum-unlikely hipster style icon Joanna Newsom do Berlin. And so here are some rarities by the girly-voiced harpist—selections from self-released and now discontinued EPs from 2002 and -3.

Newsom forever teeters on the edge of going too far or being too much, her undeniable talent only just balancing the cutesy and nerdy elfishness of the fantasy genre, as indulged in by a middle class youngster who has yet to experience life outside of books. Too much incense and velvet, too little… well, there's no need to be crude.

Yet Newsom's sense of melody and of syllables are evident. And her work was never derivative, already impressively sculpted and accomplished at the very outset. Debut album proper, The Milk-eyed Mender, is an even work of dreamy beauty with a sound and universe unlike any other album or artist. Subsequent work by Newsom was perhaps a tad pretentious (the sprawling, never-ending Ys) or confusing (the R&B-inflected Have One on Me, which may just as well be thought of as more experimental as it could a sell-out).

So we're staying with her early work. Before The Milk-eyed Mender came out, many of its songs had been self-released by Newsom in what could be called demo versions. Those EPs—«Walnut Whales» and «Yarn and Glue»—are currently out of print, but fret not: here are the highlights, including a few numbers that never saw release on subsequent albums.
  1. Yarn and Glue
  2. The Book of Right-on
  3. Bridges and Balloons
  4. Sprout and the Bean
  5. The Fray
  6. «En Gallop!»
  7. Erin
  8. What We Have Known
  9. Peach, Plum, Pear

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