Emily - Joanna Newsom (2006)
Where to begin? This little elfin lady is one of the big reasons indie rock resonated back into my mind and heart in the mid-part of the last decade. I had turned a blind eye for quite some time to the genre. After Nirvana was signed, it seemed that every indie artist of note was signed up anyway, so I just had to wait for that to happen to discover them (the album would be better produced anyway!)
Then, The Decemberists blew my mind. After purchasing all of their discs, I went onto the still new "novelty-like" itunes to purchase their bonus EP for Picaresque, Picaresqueties. There on that digital platter was a stirring song called "Bridges & Balloons". It was a cover, by a woman I'd never heard of. Feverishly, I went onto the early blogosphere and searched for more information.
This was 2006.
Ys was about to be released.
She was on every page.
Purchasing the Milk-Eyed Mender and Ys at same time from the Drag City website, I was prepared for greatness, which I received in abundance from the former disc.
Listening to the second first (?) however, I wasn't prepared for Ys.
I don't think, even with all the advanced praise raging loudly on the web, any of us were.
This girl was working with Van Dyke Parks and Steve Albini...... ON THE SAME DISC!!!!
And Jim O' Rourke!!
And those songs!!
Extended song poems that unfold like classical suites swept along by Newsom's expert harp playing on a bed of vintage Parks' orchestrations.
I had never heard anything like it, something I didn't expect to say in 2006.
"Emily" gets the pick for the 365, simply because it is the first song on the album, and a hell of an introduction for those of us who skipped Mender. Her three disc epic Have One On Me was still four years away, as well as her fashion icon and SNL cast member dating status. What we had was a Sophomore disc that eclipsed all that had come before it with 5 long musical adventures that showed us that indie rock or freak folk or whatever you want to call it still had much to teach us.
I hope her next album is a five disc extravaganza. I promise I will listen to it all.