Joanna Newsom harp playing tagged posts

Brilliant Songs #27: Joanna Newsom’s “Baby Birch”

Sometimes, all we want and need is a short declarative bellow hooked into something hummable and danceable.

“I wanna hold your ha-aa-aa-a-anddd!”

“I can’t get noooo….satisfack-shun!”

“I seeee the ba-ad moon a-risin’!”

Other times, we slow the pace, lower the volume and still ourselves for a close listen to a story as it unspools from the mind and imagination of a singing poet as she frames a multi-layered tale across time, space and memory.

Her songs consistently beg big questions but just as consistently refuse the beggar, short-circuiting our Need to Know…

At 40 years old, the nearly unclassifiable Joanna Newsom has been telling such tales for two decades now as a singer-songwriter and harpist. (Yes, the harp!)

Hints of classical music accompany the harp, of course, like wispy clouds joyriding in an aural mashup that wafts along with strains of indie folk, “chamber folk,” avant garde, jazz, and hybrids c...

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