Joanna Newsom: Have One on Me

The harpist-songwriter's record is her most ambitious to date

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Have One on Me
is Joanna Newsom's most ambitious record to date, which isn't a statement to take lightly. The harpist-songwriter's last record, Ys, was a double LP with five massive songs of long, cosmic lyrics that would have suited Walt Whitman. Have One on Me scales back on the tenacity of those songs but exceeds that album's depth. Newsom sprawls 18 songs across three LPs and though the songs are shorter, they have a wider scope than anything she's written before. Exploring the American West in direct terms, Newsom conjures vivid but grounded scenes – road trips, horses, lush gardens. Her voice is clearer (more Kate Bush and less Karen Dalton), her harp playing has backed off from the John Fahey-esque density of Ys, and she even switches to piano for a few songs. The result is surprisingly fun – a two-hour trip through the visions of an undeniably distinct songwriter. (Drag City) 4 out of 5 stars.

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