Review

Joanna Newsom, "Have One on Me"

It's hard to imagine folk singer/songwriter Joanna Newsom following up her five-song, 55-minute 2006 sophomore album, "Ys," with an even more ambitious release. Spanning 18 tracks and three discs, Newsom's third effort, "Have One on Me," ups the ante in not only quantity but also musical diversity. The majestic arrangements of "Ys" are expanded, with crackling drums on the new track "Good Intentions Paving Company" and a lonely horn section on "You and Me, Bess." Other songs like " '81" feature little more than a twinkling harp and vocals, but Newsom's songwriting evokes the same hypnotizing effect as early Joni Mitchell. The most powerful tracks combine sparseness and excessive instrumentation, as in the slow build of "Baby Birch." Newsom's wispy singing style may still be too inaccessible for some, but hardcore fans will savor the growing vocal confidence during the two-hour-plus running time. In an era of quick musical fixes, "Have One on Me" is a spacious artistic statement too original to pass up.-Jason Lipshutz

- Album Review
4 STARS