Joanna Newsom + Neal Morgan @ The Tivoli, 04.03.11
Can you forgive one of the ultimate pop-culture betrayals: when your favourite contemporary band makes a record that doesn’t bowl you down? Stuart Murdoch of Belle And Sebastian sums up the difficultly in navigating this uncomfortable morass:
“Being ‘contemporary’ with a group can have its advantages and disadvantages. Most of the time you have to wait till the dust settles around a release before you figure out what you think about it. You can forget about what you’re ‘supposed’ to think of it. What it comes down to is how inclined you are to listen to the thing.”
Joanna Newsom is an artist who is a hair’s breadth away from my heart. Milk-Eyed Mender is a startling discovery to make when you’re 15 (“She sounds like a birthing cat reciting Chaucer in a Southern accent! I love it!”) and during the cumulative time I’ve spent listening to Ys, I could have easily read, re-read, analysed and written a decent paper on David Foster Wallace’s most audacious works.
Have One On Me thus scared me: being ‘contemporary’ with a band you adore carries a risk that they’ll disappoint you. It has happened with unfortunate frequency for the past few years. When a dearly beloved band releases a follow up to their opus (which will never, ever be removed from your iPod), only to have it transpire to be a flat, uninspired afterthought, strung together with too-slick-production and insipid, gluey lyrics is a let down of grand proportions. I was thinking this over as I arrived at the Tivoli, reminiscing fondly of Joanna’s earlier songs and curious to see if any the songs off Have One On Me would be galvanised by a live rendition. I personally perceived them, bar the first half of the record, as limp pale imitations of Newsom’s reachable zeniths. -> -> ->
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