Joanna Newsom/Roy Harper, Royal Festival Hall, South Bank Centre, London, 12/052010

themilkman on May 14th 2010 12:42 am

Joanna Newsom/Roy Harper, Royal Festival Hall, South Bank Centre, London, 12/052010

It was a Royal Festival Hall packed to the rafters that welcomed Joanna Newsom on the second of her two London dates this Wednesday evening. She had managed to convince her musical hero, Roy Harper, to open for her for these two shows, as she had a few years ago at the Royal Albert Hall. Harper, who was performing live for only the second time following a three year break, played a selection of songs, most of them dating back to the late sixties and early seventies (The Green Man, Another Day or Me And My Woman to name but a few), his voice, strong, with rich overtones and deep reaches, effortlessly filling the RFH, while he alternated between two electro-acoustic guitars, at times so utterly fragile and ephemeral, at other incredibly gritty and violent. Continue Reading »

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JOANNA NEWSOM: Have One On Me (Drag City)

themilkman on Mar 2nd 2010 12:57 am

Joanna Newsom: Have One On Me

Have One On Me
Drag City 2010
18 Tracks. 124mins01secs

Amazon UK: CD | LP | DLD US: CD | LP | DLD Boomkat: CD | LP iTunes: DLD

Joanna Newsom could only follow the sheer brilliance of the majestic Ys, released three and a half ago already, by rising up to a challenge of a different kind. Have One On Me is a daunting affair by any standards. Eighteen songs spread over three discs and two hours, this is epic in every possible way, but there is here very little left of the expensive orchestrations devised by Van Dyke Parks. Instead, Ys Street Band leader Ryan Francesconi brings Newsom’s songs to life in much more subtle ways, drafting in banjos, acoustic and electric guitars, Bulgarian tambura, kaval, mandolin, Hammond organ, strings, brass and woodwinds, while Newsom alternates between the harp and the piano, her style as assertive with the latter as it is light and sharp with the former.

The songs, while still often developing over several minutes, are in general more contained, but there is no such a thing as traditional song forms in Miss Newsom’s work. Continue Reading »

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themilkman on Jan 4th 2010 12:17 am

10 years in 20 records

The noughties have seen probably the most radical changes in the music industries since the advent of the record. Consumption habits have dramatically moved from traditional to digital formats, music has been increasingly seen as something to steal rather than to buy, and listening habits means that nowadays, the album is becoming increasingly redundant. Or is it? Whereas it had, at least in some circles, become totally acceptable to fill records with substandard music, it is now essential for artists to create consistent pieces of work if they want to retain the attention of their audience. The last ten years have delivered their fair share of hits and misses, and this list doesn’t pretend to be in any way shape or form exhaustive. This is just, in no particular order, the definitive list of the 20 albums that have defined the noughties at themilkfactory.

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Joanna Newsom, Somerset House, London, 20/07/2008

themilkman on Jul 22nd 2008 01:03 am

Joanna Newsom, Sommerset House, London, 20/07/2008

It was a busy day for Joanna Newsom this Sunday 20 July, with no less than two performances, the first at noon at the Latitude Festival in Southwold, Suffolk, and the second in the grand settings of Somerset House in the heart of London. This had left her with very little time to familiarise herself with the evening venue. As she took her place behind her harp, she was visibly incredulous, first at how white the crowd was, then at the venue itself, whispering a shy ‘this is… mad’ as she looked around. Continue Reading »

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themilkman on Dec 12th 2006 09:15 pm

Joanna Newsom: Ys

Drag City 2006
05 Tracks. 55mins41secs

No word can convey the emotional turmoil that Joanna Newsom’s Ys causes to this reviewer’s soul. Neither can words begin to do any justice to such a complex and tortuous piece of work. For her second album, Ms Newsom has seriously upped the stakes. Already, The Milk-Eyed Mender, released on Drag City over two years ago, demonstrated the extent of her story-telling talent and her musical capability. With Ys, she takes this to a completely new level and dares going where very few have gone before her. Continue Reading »

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