Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hype: Joanna Newsom's Have One on Me

Many months ago, early buzz for a new Joanna Newsom album began after the singer/songwriter/folkie/harpist performed a two-and-a-half hour set of mostly new material at a secret show somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.

Months passed without additional news. Then, two weeks ago, Drag City posted an intriguing cartoon on their website:

Following the publication of this cartoon, Pitchfork quickly confirmed that Have One on Me would, in fact, be the name of a new Joanna Newsom album, and the album was slated for a February 19 release in Australia, and February 23 in the U.S.

Over the last two weeks, a few pieces of information and opinions about Newsom's upcoming album have surfaced, only to be quickly targeted and removed by Drag City's crack information suppression task force.

Now, finally, we have some solid info. Today, Drag City listed Newsom's new album for preorder as both a 3xCD and a 3xLP, also announcing that the album would be released everywhere on February 23 (sorry Australia).

So what else do we know about the album? Well, according to some deleted twitter/tumblr/blog action, the album has been described as a "blessed tower of plenitude." A prominent English music critic tweeted (in another removed post) that Newsom's new album was longer than All Things Must Pass (2:04) and Wu-Tang Forever (2:01) but shorter than Speakerboxxx/Love Below (2:14) and Sandinista (2:24). That would put the album's length somewhere in the 2:10 range. This, coupled with the the fact that the album is both 3 CD's or 3 LP's indicates that rather than three discs full of music, we'll have three collections of songs that hopefully work as individual units as well as a unified whole.

We also have some song titles snagged from a recent setlist. Among the new songs played in Sydney were "Jack Rabbits," "Have One on Me," "Ribbon Bows," "In California," "Easy," "Soft as Chalk," "Autumn," and "'81." We also know that "'81," which Drag City was streaming from their website earlier, and someone on a message board that will remain unnamed, managed to dig up the Mp3 of, appears to be the third of six songs on the first disc. That doesn't mean much, but it's something.

The most exciting thing about all of this is simply that, after four years, Joanna Newsom is releasing a full album of songs that should total over two hours of new music. Judging from the studio recording of "'81" and the songs from the Sydney bootleg, these songs will be every bit as good as anything Newsom has done in the past, while managing to bring fresh ideas into the mix.

I'm off to preorder the album so that I'll have it spinning on my turntable ASAP (read: February 23), at which time I'll share more detailed thoughts.

Until then, enjoy this video from Sydney:


  1. Why is it going to be on three CDs when it could clearly fit on two?

  2. I'm guessing they'll be arranged thematically as individual units that work as a whole. In fact, after I posted this, someone leaked the track list and each disc has six songs. One of the discs is 36 min., the other two are around 42. So, it pretty much looks like it was laid out for vinyl, then kept that way for CD to maintain the presentation and preserve the integrity of the music object.