JOANNA NEW­SOM

Pasatiempo - - Pasa Tempos - — Robert Ben­ziker

Have One on Me (Drag

City) Even though I’ve spent three weeks with Joanna New­som’s three­d­isc, two-hour opus, I’ve come to the old crit­i­cal cop-out, “I don’t un­der­stand ev­ery­thing here, so it must be bril­liant.” What can I say? This is an al­bum to chew slowly and sa­vor, and I’ll still be break­ing off nuggets in 2012. Here’s what I do know: there are none of the in­ten­tion­ally shrill mo­ments that New­som fa­vored on her won­der­ful de­but, The Milk-Eyed Mender, nor any of the over­pro­duced or­ches­tra­tion of her chal­leng­ing fol­low-up, Ys. This al­bum finds her voice ring­ing beau­ti­fully clear and her ar­range­ments taste­fully stripped down. She has grown into the most wor­thy suc­ces­sor to Joni Mitchell yet, both in terms of her wist­ful up­per reg­is­ter (more nasal than Mitchell’s) and her in­ces­sant ex­per­i­men­ta­tion with lyrics and melody. Maybe you’ll grav­i­tate to peppy num­bers like “Good In­ten­tions Paving Com­pany.” Maybe you’ll find your­self smit­ten by num­bers that sound of the mo­ment yet old as the hills, like “Jackrab­bits.” Maybe you’ll work the al­bum like a Ru­bik’s Cube, fig­ur­ing out what it all means. And maybe you’ll let it come to you slowly, and re­veal what it means to you. Re­gard­less of how you choose to crack this nut, it’s clear that the more you in­vest in it, the more re­wards you’ll reap.

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