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The Milk-Eyed Mender

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Lydia Vanderloo
One of 2004's more unusual -- and surprisingly endearing -- releases has to be the debut by Joanna Newsom, a classically trained harpist who counts such alt-folkies as Will Oldham, Smog, and Devendra Banhart as fans. Her sparsely arranged original tunes crackle with vibrant poetry, illuminated by her girlish voice, which suggests idiosyncratic singers like Lisa Germano, Kristin Hersh, or Cat Power but remains utterly distinctive. She accompanies herself largely on the harp, weaving colorful backdrops that call to mind the nimble-fingered guitar pickings of Nick Drake or Bert Jansch. Her playing on songs such as "Bridges and Balloons," "Sadie," and "En Gallop" is as ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Lydia Vanderloo
One of 2004's more unusual -- and surprisingly endearing -- releases has to be the debut by Joanna Newsom, a classically trained harpist who counts such alt-folkies as Will Oldham, Smog, and Devendra Banhart as fans. Her sparsely arranged original tunes crackle with vibrant poetry, illuminated by her girlish voice, which suggests idiosyncratic singers like Lisa Germano, Kristin Hersh, or Cat Power but remains utterly distinctive. She accompanies herself largely on the harp, weaving colorful backdrops that call to mind the nimble-fingered guitar pickings of Nick Drake or Bert Jansch. Her playing on songs such as "Bridges and Balloons," "Sadie," and "En Gallop" is as sweet and seductive as her lyrics. "We sailed away on a winter's day / With fate as malleable as clay," she intones on the album-opening "Bridges and Balloons," while on the meditation "En Gallop," she warns, "Never get so attached to a poem / You forget truth that lacks lyricism; / Never draw so close to the heat / That you forget that you must eat." Elsewhere, she hits a slightly more harsh tone on the plunking piano piece "Inflammatory Writ" and delves into a contemporary baroque-folk fusion on "Peach, Plum, Pear," where she accompanies herself on harpsichord. Newsom's high-pitched voice may take a little getting used to -- anyone remember the first time they heard Billie Holiday? -- but her spirited and enveloping music is as charming as it is original.
All Music Guide - MacKenzie Wilson
Classically trained harpist Joanna Newsom uses her appreciation of Appalachian folk and bluegrass for an oddly alluring set of indie rock melodies. Milk-Eyed Mender, which follows her homemade EP releases Walnut Whales and Yarn and Glue, is rich in harvest colors. Newsom's childlike voice brings an unstudied grace to an innocent setting of songs, and such quirkiness is hard to find among most guitar-driven indie acts. From the more whimsical moments of "Peach, Plum, Pear" and "Inflammatory Writ" to the dovelike ballad "This Side of the Blue," Newsom welcomes the listener to sink into its imagination. Delicate harp arrangements are nicely sprinkled among specks of pianos, organs, and a harpsichord, only adding to the fascination that is Milk-Eyed Mender. Some may find the album to be overly sweet in spots due to Newsom's girlish voice; however, the fairytale-like appeal of Milk-Eyed Mender is far too intriguing to dismiss. Newsom exists in several musical spheres, one being a member of the Pleased, while not forgetting how wonderful it is to live in a warm place that leaves you bright-eyed and hopeful for only what is good in life.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/23/2004
  • Label: Drag City
  • UPC: 781484026327
  • Catalog Number: 263
  • Sales rank: 9,914

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Joanna Newsom Primary Artist, Harp, Harpsichord, Wurlitzer
Technical Credits
Noah Georgeson Producer, Engineer
Joanna Newsom Composer
Emily Prince Contributor, Cover Art
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Fans of Bjork Rejoice

    Joanna Newsom has what is known as an untrainable voice. Her voice, all in all, is not the most pleasing thing to listen. It is childish, and at times, strained. There are qualities of her voice that just do not agree with the ears - and yet, we saw the same come from Bjork. Both are young artists who have opened themselves up with all of their heart and emotion, regardless of whether they are outstandingly talented or not.

    While Newsom's voice is untrainable, her musical talent is outstanding. her lyrics are powerful, and full of emotion and passion. I first heard 'Sprout and the Bean' on the music video's director's website. I instantly went out and got Milk Eyed Monster, and was just blown away.'The Book of Right-On' is another title that blows me away every time I listen to it. The cadence and rhythm is just gorgeous, it's simplicity is so addicting and amazing. Less is more, and Newsom embodies this to a 'T'.

    To a musician, Newsom is incredible. She uses rarely used instruments (if memory serves correctly, she is a classically trained harpist who uses that instrument quite frequently on the album). Simple plucking guitars, powerful piano, and not a single percussion instrument (well, unless you are on the side of the fence claiming piano as percussion).

    Pick up this album, and give it an honest listen, starting with 'Sprout and the Bean' - it will give you a sense of her honesty and love for music, even without the most perfect voice.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A reviewer

    Is it full of soul and wonder. Her lyrics are whimsical and beautiful. I love this cd! It is one of my top ten favorites that I can listen to over and over.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Important Music

    I am not sure why, but this album seems important. It is groundbreaking on several levels - intriguing lyrics, a curious amalgam of styles and some instruments we don't get to hear enough of. I just can't seem to stop listening to it and all this from a 22 year old artist!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    amazing

    i'm in love with this music. its beautiful

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    Posted April 24, 2010

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    Posted February 24, 2009

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    Posted November 16, 2008

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    Posted December 29, 2009

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    Posted November 22, 2009

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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews