A Most Generous Offer: Joanna Newsom, Have One On Me

Gone are the days of feline shrieks over heartfelt harps, as genuine eccentric genius Joanna Newsom returns with an audacious opus straddling three discs and at least thirteen genres. Attempting to condense such a splendid two hours as contained within Have One On Me into a measly mound of three-hundred words would be about as superfluous as arguing the loaded pros and reasoned cons of fox homicide with blood-bathed barbaric fools. More of a back catalogue than a brush with the Radio 1 A-list and a Topshop endorsement that seem the unique perks of heaps of records these days, Newsom’s acute attention to the most miniscule detail is lamentably loveable and instantly laudable. What follows is a somewhat excessive track-by-track retelling of the best musical fairytale written since hooded hoards paraded through Hammersmith, all in the name of My Chemical Romance. Possibly better...

Easy: A sprawling six-minute marriage of cooing Kate Bush vocal crests and righteous Rufus Wainwright theatrical piano plonkery, held in the gardens of Gershwin. Elton John most certainly in attendance.

Have One On Me: Title track, and the grand entrance of Newsom’s trademark harp voyages through typical vocal swoons and atypical banjo twangs, like glamorous stowaways rip-roaring along Western railways.

’81: Perhaps the most beautiful string in Newsom’s bountiful bow, ’81 clocks in at a radio-friendly four minutes in which we’re invited to a Georgian garden party, delivered in a harrowing minor key.

Good Intentions Paving Company: As close as Joanna’s ever going to come to a Michael Jackson Motown major key masterpiece, Newsom’s vocal capacity takes on altogether shockingly superb dimensions. An extraneous example of her virtuous versatility.

No Provenance: An exhaustingly afflicting acoustic lullaby reminiscent of the river songs of Nick Drake. Yet another blissful ballad in short.

Baby Birch: As emotionally charged as Enya’s Greatest Hits over a low-lit break-up dinner, Joanna’s flailing falsetto takes on an almost androgynous quality, beacon-like in a dark, drab doldrum of sorrowful darkness.

On A Good Day: The shortest chanson contained within Have One On Me, On A Good Day is a hopeful hymn to even the dimmest of lights at the ends of the darkest of emotional tunnels.

You And Me, Bess: A forceful initial fanfare gives way to a sensual staccato-led ode to the undulating emotions at the heart of every burgeoning friendship.

In California: Although largely recorded amongst the exquisite etiquette of Tokyo, the calming cooing of In California encapsulates euphorically the remaining rolling hills of America’s sunshine state untouched by scandalous sleaze.

Jackrabbits: An almost 80s power ballad pulse runs through the humbled harp strings of Jackrabbits, as Newsom’s lyrics lollop, slapdashed sweetly like modest waterfalls flowing into accomodating streams below.

Go Long: A reverting to somewhat more stereotypical songsmithery, Go Long boasts little of the machismo bravado of American football, instead preferring to wallow in the despair of discomforting acoustica.

Occident: Swirling in and out of tempos and key changes like hurricane Katrina ripping through PJ Harvey’s most hallowed moments, taught snares regiment an impeccably warbled waltz.

Soft As Chalk: Cabaret choruses and extravagant Broadway verses make for a bizarre retro reverb showdown between Devendra Banhart and Victorian piano plods. Coincidentally, chord progressions occasionally sound strangely similar to Ash’s Twilight of the Innocents...

Esme: Celebratory chords herald lyrics of new-born babes showered by electric storms and paparazzi flashes. Potential fears for full fruition of her reported relationship with Andy Samberg perhaps?

Autumn: Falling with the final leaves of Have One On Me, the dying embers of Autumn glow with a striking solemnity, as Newsom’s voice fluctuates fancifully over the swooning strings that sellotape the record together.

Ribbon Bows: Yet another subdued affair, that eventually erupts into a kaleidoscopic crescendo of operatic proportions, before fading away into obscurity like distant shooting stars.

Kingfisher: Practically a nursery rhyme of epic proportions, Kingfisher swoops with pacifically-plucked harps and harpsichords, before sweeping into the majestic motifs of Does Not Suffice.

Does Not Suffice: Almost unnecessary vocals adorn a simply superlative conclusion to an overtly outstanding collection of universally venerated what can only be described as pieces (songs would merely be inappropriate), capable of secreting themselves into any musical moment or playlist, both popular and passé.

Have One On Me is released in the UK on March 1 through Drag City Records.