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Futures, Options, and Swaps (the weblog of Alan DeNiro)

riddle me this

So Joanna Newsom’s Ys has been getting quite a lot of praise lately for its lush, orchestral iconoclasm and symbology. The praise for this album has been pretty breathless. But I wonder whether this is the real deal or another manifestation of “The Sideways Effect”. I’m just suspicious, in that way, of effusively praised works that seem to act as a divisive marker of “being cultured,” aside from the quality of the work itself.

So, my question is: since the album seems to be working expressly in fantasy tropes, how does Ys actually work as fantasy? Is this a case where Joanna Newsom has taken the fabulist bull by the horns and made an album that delves into its subject matter in an utterly unique way? Or is this a case where know-nothing critics see the fantasy as a kind of pre-Raphaelite pixie dust?

For what it’s worth, I loved some of the stuff I’d heard on the radio from her previous album, Milk Eyed Mender, and thought that the song (yes, the Current actually played this on the radio, god bless ‘em) from Ys sounded like a sonic encapsulation of the worst fantasy-convention dealer’s room you could think of. BUT, obviously, the album as a cohesive whole might very well be a different, altogether better, story.

Mon, February 12 2007 » Fiction, Music

3 Responses

  1. Meghan February 12 2007 @ 6:51 pm

    Did they play Monkey and Bear? With all the strings? It took SUCH a long time for that song to grow on me, but now I love it. The rest of the album is incredible. I mean incredible. Newsom is the real deal and knows how to marry words and music into something strange and sophisticated, not twee. I am emailing you my favorite song from the album now.

  2. Alan February 12 2007 @ 6:59 pm

    Cool-and many thanks. That’s good to hear about her stuff.

    Hmm, Wiscon GoH 2008?

  3. Steve Thorn February 13 2007 @ 3:31 pm

    I have not yet listened to her latest, but in ‘Mender”, I absolutely love The Book of Right On.

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