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The dreamer dreams again with her 4th album of otherworldly microcosms, 'Divers', recorded by Steve Albini and featuring contributions by Nico Muhly and The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, arriving five years since her last opus for Drag City. Still possessed by a voice that teeters between sublime and ridiculous (I honestly laughed out loud at the first song), Joanna Newsom remains a precious spirit within the indie folk paradigm, blessed with an air of stately patience and poised, immaculate production which belies her phantasmagoric storytelling and deeply whimsical appeal.
The following promo paragraph should give a good gauge of the lofty ideas and intent behind the LP:
"Dive, listener, knowing that your next hour will be filled with diversions aplenty: a wheeling circuit of sci-fi sea-shanties and cavalier ballads narrated from parts unknown; a family of polysemic song-sets; a paranomasaic Liederkreis of harmonic sympathies and knotted hierarchies; a fanfare of brazen puns and martial lullabies, blazing in sorrow and horseplay and love, in turns symphonic and spare, joined by Mellotrons and Marxophones and Moogs, clavichords and celestas and, of course, the harp, thrumming its threnodies of circadian invasions and avian irruptions and strange loops of Shepardtoned resonant-frequencies."
Five years after the monumental triple CD Have One On Me, and after a turn acting with Paul Thomas Anderson and a guest appearance on a Muppets album, Joanna Newsom returned with a relatively compact 50 minute album that conceded nothing in terms of its epic scope. Her vocals were set within a spectrum of harp, keyboard and synthesizer textures, rendering her songs even more cryptic and bewitching. Dan Barrow said: “It easily stands with this year’s entrancing reinventions of song – Julia Holter’s Have You In My Wilderness, Jim O’Rourke’s Simple Songs – and the high points of her own catalogue so far. TheWire Best Albums of 2015