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Ys

Joanna Newsom

2006

Buy At Rough Trade
Ys
Album Summary

Ys (/ˈiːs/ EESS) is the second studio album by American musician Joanna Newsom. It was released by Drag City on November 14, 2006. The album was produced by Newsom and Van Dyke Parks, recorded by Steve Albini, mixed by Jim O'Rourke, with accompanying orchestral arrangements by Van Dyke Parks. It features guest vocals from Bill Callahan and Emily Newsom. The vocals and harp were recorded at The Village Recording Studio in Los Angeles in December 2005, with the orchestration being recorded between May and June 2006 at the Entourage Studios in Los Angeles. The album consists of five tracks with song durations ranging from 7 to 17 minutes that deal with events and people who had been important in Newsom's life in the year previous to recording. These events include the sudden death of Newsom's best friend, a continuing illness and a tumultuous relationship. The album was named after the city of Ys, which according to myth was built on the coast of Brittany and later swallowed by the ocean. The album's title was the last element to be confirmed and was a result of a dream that Joanna had which featured the letters Y and S and a book recommended by a friend that contained reference to the myth. Newsom grew up near Yuba and Sutter counties in California, an area which is commonly abbreviated as "YS" for "Yuba-Sutter", which may have additionally inspired the title. Ys received acclaim. It was Newsom's first album to chart in the Billboard 200, where it peaked at number 134, and charted in the United Kingdom, France, Norway and Ireland. It has featured on several music publications' lists of the greatest albums.

Wikipedia

Rating

2.79

Votes

10115

Genres

  • Folk
  • Pop

Reviews

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Tue Jul 18 2023
1

God help me, I tried for three tracks but I just can't. I'm not going to be mean about this. I'm not going to say there are parts where she sounds like Carol Kane impersonating Regina Spektor. I'm not going to say that the lyrics sound like a rough draft of Jewel's middle school poetry. I won't say this sounds like a bad acid trip at a small-town Renaissance Faire. I won't mention my confusion that her voice is so raspy yet high that it sounds like she's sucking helium through a lit cigarette. I tried, but I just can't make sense of this.

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Fri Jul 21 2023
5

Fuck, I really like this, and I was not expecting that AT ALL. I mean, five songs all longer than what I consider casually listenable? Seems like something I'm destined to be annoyed or at least bored with, but I really adored this. Firstly, it's gorgeous both musically and lyrically, with the strings really meshing well with the weirder choices such as a mouth harp and banjo. In that way it reminds me of a Leonard Cohen album, but I'd say the lyrics are far more abstract than Cohen's works, but it still really works. I like that there s no regular song structure yet it returns to the same line every few minutes to bring the song into its own orbit and not let it stray too far outwards and become a mess. I don't know if I'll go out of my way to listen to most of these songs separately due to their length, but as a whole album this is certainly up there as something great. I will admit her vocals remind me a little bit of whoever sings "Dance Monkey", but not really annoyed at it here. Then again, I never found the vocals on that track too annoying either, so perhaps I'm the one broken. Any way, amazing album, truly unexpected.

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Wed Aug 16 2023
1

Wish.com Bjork. Possibly the worst album I’ve ever heard.

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Sun Aug 06 2023
5

"Come on home, the poppies are all grown knee-deep by now Blossoms all have fallen, and the pollen ruins the plow Peonies nod in the breeze and while they wetly bow with Hydrocephalitic listlessness ants mop up their brow" Maybe it's all the harps, but I'm pretty convinced that Joanna Newsom is an angel. No human person could fit the phrase "hydrocephalitic listlessness" into a musical phrase so beautifully. This music is sent from somewhere divine. A friend put Newsom's Peach, Plum, Pear from her first album on a mixed CD for me many years ago and I was entranced with its harpsichord and the first lines: "We speak in the store I'm a sensitive bore You seem markedly more And I'm oozing surprise." The Milk-Eyed Mender became one of my favorite albums, so lovely it nearly breaks my heart. Ys is a harder album to digest. Tracks are long. So are the words. Deep listening is rewarded again and again. This isn't music meant for the background. But still heart-achingly beautiful and holy.

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Tue Sep 12 2023
2

Just when you think each song is about to end... you get 6 more minutes of 2-star music.

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Sun Sep 17 2023
2

The strengths of this album (originality, ambition, storytelling, cool chamber music vibe, cohesion) are outweighed by the weaknesses (vocals, length of the songs, wandering song structure). It's interesting, I almost enjoyed it in places, and I can see a place for it on this list. But personally, overall, not for me.

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Tue Jul 18 2023
3

I bet Andy Sandberg is hony for harp music.

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Tue Jul 18 2023
1

I’m mad I had to listen to this

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Mon Sep 04 2023
2

Friends are supposed to help keep you making a fool of yourself. This woman has no friends.

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Tue Aug 15 2023
5

This album is quite astounding. Very ambitious but she achieves what she aims for. I may even go so far as to call this album "visionary," which is a rare thing indeed. I am consistently disappointed by how the users on this 1001 generator website rate great, unorthodox albums; people here have an enormous bias against anything unconventional. I much prefer RYM users in this regard: even if they are more snobby, they are better able to appreciate the weird albums too.

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Fri Dec 01 2023
5

This. Is. A. Vibe. Gentle and touching and weird and whimsical. A beautiful record. Rating: 5/5 Playlist track: Cosmia Date listened: 30/11/23

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Fri Jul 21 2023
2

I've given Joanna Newsom a listen before but didn't like it. Maybe that's changed, I dunno. Oh no, no, noooo. That voice is too much for me. She can sing really well but there's this horrid inflection in some words that makes me wince. Plus a lot of the time the singing had almost zero connection to what was going on behind it - no doubt the point, but no thanks. The music itself was like jazzy renaissance fair stuff, but with the voice added in it had an odd country flavour. This was a struggle. 2/5.

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Wed Aug 09 2023
2

Ok so the background music was awesome, but I could not do her voice. Whenever she hit a high shift and squeaked it actually hurt.

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Fri Sep 15 2023
5

This is an incredible album. The musicianship and songwriting is just on another level. I have always liked Joanna Newsom but hadn't listened to this album in a while. It got me hooked again. I listened to this one all the way through multiple times today and then moved on to listen to "Have One On Me" for the rest of my work day. I'll probably listen to "Divers" all day tomorrow. It's a 5/5. Standout Tracks: Emily, Monkey & Bear, Sawdust & Diamonds, Only Skin, Cosmia

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Sun Aug 06 2023
3

Incredibly unique. I'll probably need another listen while reading along with the lyrics to fully appreciate it. Orchestral folk, but I like the terms "prog folk" and "freak folk" to describe it. Not my cup o' tea musically, but maybe I'll give it another shot.

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Thu Sep 28 2023
2

The people who suggest they like her apparently only do so in an attempt to appear interesting. They're not interesting. Neither is Joanna Newsom. We already have Björk, who's mastered whatever this genre is and has proved no one else should even try it. Not for nothing, but I'm sure that Icelandic Princess Björk and I would get along famously. Joanna Newsom seems like someone who wouldn't put up with any of my shit.

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Sun Dec 31 2023
2

Oh my god she never shuts up. 2/5

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Mon Feb 12 2024
5

one of the best rap albums i’ve ever heard

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Fri Apr 05 2024
5

this has less than a 3 on here... didn't know they let the deaf use this website

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Thu Jul 20 2023
4

4.0 + "Emily" encapsulates all that is amazing on this record. Newsom's combination of harp and vaudeville-styled vocals are among the most unique in music, and the lyrics evoke images from nursery rhymes, ancient myths, as well as a childlike fascination with the cosmos. The rhythms and tones morph constantly, creating strange and exciting landscapes. This records offers up a feast for the senses, though perhaps one that's best consumed in small bites.

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Sun Aug 06 2023
4

This was my introduction to Joanna Newsom. I think I need to spend a bit more time with it to fully absorb her music. I especially loved the orchestra arrangements with the marvelous harp. I was a little less enamored, but very much intrigued, by her vocals and wandering lyrics. Maybe a little Björk mixed with Blossom Dearie? I just can't say I loved this, but I really would like to try it again sometime.

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Wed Aug 02 2023
2

The way she sings is quite similar to Björk, and I really like Björk but in this instance I feel like it's detracting from the music immensely. I really like this project except for her vocals. It's a shame.

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Fri Jul 21 2023
5

fuck dude, I reaaaally want to give this a 10/10 I love almost everything about this; the instrumental arrange is simply divine, and the songs are all so well written what’s really driving me crazy is her voice I am NOT a fan of how she sings it’s like if Bjork was a ukulele girl, it’s painfully annoying I was thinking of giving this an 8/10, but again, these songs are so damn good I’ll give it a 9/10 maybe on a relisten it’ll be a full 10/10, but for right now, those vocals are just driving me crazy

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Thu Dec 07 2023
5

The most wonderful fever dream

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Sat Dec 16 2023
5

This first day I listened to this album, I ended up listening to Joanna Newsom’s entire discography. This album is absurdly beautiful. The instrumentation, arrangement, and Van Dyke Parks’ production is truly stunning. Newsom’s lyrics span mythology, allegory, and mythologized scenes from her life and childhood. Though this album is five songs and almost an hour long, the songs never overstay their welcome and are engaging to the end. Joanna Newsom is perhaps my favorite current songwriter and I find her talent staggering.

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Thu Mar 21 2024
5

I totally understand Samberg. Had I met Joanna Newsom the same year this was release I would have fallen in love too. Ys is uniquely complex, fragile and beautiful. It’s like nothing else. A rare work of utter brilliance. I don’t think there’s ever a time when I’m not in the mood for this.

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Wed Jul 10 2024
3

Another 2000's darling gathering dust on my flash drive. I think I forced myself through it once when it came out, did not know Albini engineered it! Surprised me how enjoyable this was today, sharp and tuneful although undeniably flighty and precious. Decent result overall; kids hate it, of course, condemned as a deranged Disney soundtrack

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Wed Jul 10 2024
3

I’ve had this remarkable album for almost two decades and I still don’t know what to do with it. Too intense to stay in the background, over a close listen it demands a commitment to its convolutions that I’m unwilling to give. It’s loaded with imagery and analogy that I’m too knackered to decipher, and while it sounds gorgeous and close (requiscat, Albini) and its intricate movements are dynamic, for anything to linger I’d have to march through it… well, I haven’t marched through it enough times yet. I like this record, but “it’s complicated”.

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Fri Jul 14 2023
2

Típic disc que encanta a la crítica, per la seva valentia, el seu so, la seva imatge. I és cert: és un treball valent, amb només cinc llarg temes, amb l'arpa i la veu de Newsom com a protagonistes; amb un so diferent i molt propi, encerclat en la corrent de l'alt-folk que tan en boga estava en aquells anys. I amb una imatge exquisida, com una guapa joglar medieval recent aterrada en els nostres dies. El contingut, però, no està a l'alçada de tot el que l'envolta

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Tue Jul 09 2024
2

I can certainly see the appeal and the reason that this album is on this list. However, I personally did not like this album at all. Listening feels like biting into a juicy, ripe fruit with a flavor that I just don’t like. The album meanders along like a butterfly flapping through a garden, jerking in the wind to whichever direction it feels, occasionally stopping on a bright and beautiful flower. And while this would be a sight to behold for some, I personally don’t belong in this metaphorical garden ogling at the beauty of nature (I’d be something like a caveman doing brute, monotonous tasks in the metaphorical Yeezus world). All things considered, it’s probably objectively a 4, personally a 2, and -1 for not being on Spotify, so giving it a 2

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Sun Aug 06 2023
5

I have never listened to nor recall ever hearing of Joanna Newsom - although later after reading about her harp skills I vaguely recall some past exposure to her - but not enough to have any current recognition. This is fascinating. Hints of late medieval instrumentation, dashes of Blossom Dearie & Björk and a whole lot of interesting song construction, lush arrangements, dense lyrics and harp blended into something I would never have expected. Although this journey is over quite uneven terrain it’s remarkable how smooth and soothing it is to me. enchanting intriguing unique great!

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Tue Aug 15 2023
5

This album is so awesome. I definitely think I'll listen to it again at some point, although I'm not sure what mood I'll be in that will drive me to it. It was the best kind of weird... Relatable but in a confusing way. Such strange music but as different as it was, it was all aesthetic and masterfully produced. Definitely a 5 out of 5.

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Sun Aug 20 2023
5

Sounds SO much like Anais Mitchel. It's gorgeous. What wonderful sound.

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Wed Sep 06 2023
5

One of my favorites of all time

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Fri Sep 29 2023
5

A stunning record - ambitious, enchanting and magical. Something from the past, something from the now. The scale, the imagination. In a lane of its own, Ys transports the listener. Read the room, Caroline Saint-Jacques Renard.

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Fri Oct 20 2023
5

I'd listened before and not cared for it so I was shocked at how much I absolutely adored this album this time through. Just such stirring rises and falls of beautfilly orchestrated music accompanying such vivid yet cryptic poetry is just awesome. I get it now lol

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Wed Nov 01 2023
5

Great chamber and orchestral pop masterpiece

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Fri Dec 01 2023
5

Kate Bush and Bjork via California, almost timeless in its themes and sound. The average score for this is way too low and most of you should be ashamed of yourselves.

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Mon Dec 04 2023
5

An astounding achievement in modern pop music: timeless, haunting, achingly beautiful, and evocatively poetic, Joanna Newsom is a force of nature. Like an angel with her harp, she sings of life and death and romance and the cosmos and the beauty and danger of the natural world, all the while surprising, delighting, and possibly even breaking the heart and piecing it back together again for the attentive, engaged listener. Like nothing I’ve ever heard, Newsom went for broke on this her second album and succeeds on ever level. An album to return to again and again, to marvel at, to bask in the glory of, and to dig through carefully to reveal its subtle secrets. 'When the bough breaks, what’ll you make for me? A little willow cabin to rest on your knee What’ll I do with a trinket such as this? Think of your woman, who’s gone to the west But I’m starving and freezing in my measly old bed! Then I’ll crawl across the salt flats, to stroke your sweet head Come across the desert with no shoes on! I love you truly Or I love no-one'

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Thu Dec 07 2023
5

I really liked it! Never heard of such orchestral folk music before, also think her voice is super unique and cool. Hehhe the was a bread roll.

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Fri Dec 15 2023
5

I'd forgotten just how good this album is. I was a fan of "Milk-Eyed Mender", but this is at another level entirely.

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Sat Dec 16 2023
5

Wow. Kind of a celtic Folk Kate Bush or Björk. I love it.

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Sat Dec 16 2023
5

Truly enchanting, in the deepest sense of the word. I was so transfixed that when my headphones died mid-album it was genuinely jarring and upsetting. This is easily one of the best records that this list has introduced to me.

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Fri Jan 12 2024
5

“Does that mean it’s more whimsical? Is it any more whimsical?” “Well, it’s one more whimsical, isn’t it? It’s not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten...Where can you go from there? Where?” “Why don’t you make ten a little more whimsical? Make that the top number and make that a little whimsier?” “These go to eleven.” But I fucking loved it.

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Wed Jan 17 2024
5

That was so interesting musically. The orchestral backing was fantastic and the overall vibe of the album sort of reminds me of some disney movies.

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Tue Jan 23 2024
5

As of 2024, Joanna Newsom has released four albums, each of them garnering praise from small ardent circles and bafflement from many more. "Ys" was released when she was just 24, and addresses a range of life events including her growing relationship with her sister, a miscarriage she had suffered, a failing romantic relationship, and her place in the music industry itself. It sits completely outside any other music on this list, anything I have in my collection, and certainly anything else happening in 2006 (when this was released, Justin Timberlake was topping the Billboard charts). "Ys" could have been written in 2006, or it could have been written in 1681, or 1147, and I'm not sure I'd be any the wiser. It's as though Newsom discovered a secret, untapped alchemy for making music, existing in her own vacuum. At what point did I realise I was listening to a true classic? Perhaps somewhere between the eighth and ninth listens, wandering the city farm, completely lost in my own thoughts, the music growing out from the ground, drifting down from the heavens, shining in with the sun. To summarise the five tracks/poems/epics… "Emily" meanders delicately through a verse, pre-chorus and chorus, running a four-minute cycle three enthralling times. It builds masterfully, then pulls the rug away, then gently lays it back at our feet. "Monkey and Bear" is a twisty-turny allegory of two animals escaping their farm for a life of performance. It initially felt disposable to me, but has such engaging narrative and colour in its delivery that it's hard not to be swept away on the journey. "Sawdust and Diamonds" consists almost entirely of Newsom's vocals and her harp playing (the undeniable instrumental centrepiece, taking my breath away every time). Utterly beautiful. "Only Skin", my favourite track, is stunning from beginning to end: the ornate, orchestral intro, the perfectly judged changes in dynamics throughout, the ragged runaway climax featuring backing vocals from Bill Callahan. Finally, "Cosmia" is relatively simplistic, a plea to a departed friend which stretches grief into a celestial exultation. A heart-melting chorus, gorgeous harp work, and we're done. What else to say? Newsom's vocabulary is off the scale, standing as poetry on its own, to an extent which won't appeal to every listener. Reading the words alongside the music helped it all come together for me: very few lines are wasted, with every one either beginning a new story, running alongside a key change, offering a switch of perspective. And every now and then, a stunning, straight-to-the-heart melody breaks out like sunshine: the hook of "Only Skin", the chorus of "Sawdust and Diamonds", the refrain of "Cosmia". It's almost impossible to grasp on the first couple of listens, but then to embrace "Ys" is to follow Newsom down a rabbit hole - or into a labyrinth, or through a wardrobe - into a wonderland. With just a little time, it becomes lush, expansive, immaculate. It's taken a while and I had to put the work in (in fact, my first listen was five months before finishing this review) but I'm very, very glad I did.

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Tue Jan 30 2024
5

I think this will take another 20 listens to be sufficiently appreciated. First run through I couldn't help but think that while each and every part in isolation was sheer perfection (orchestral arrangement, voice, writing etc) it struggled to make sense to me when packaged up together. Second time it started making more sense and I think that incremental appreciation will continue as I listen more.

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Mon Feb 05 2024
5

Grandiose, vast, demands repeat listens to center in on the intricacies of the lyrics and arrangements. Demanding of your time and attention when an artist doesn't need Spotify to know their worth.

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Sun Feb 18 2024
5

I adore this album. There are some quite exceptional moments and every track has magic. One to keep coming back to again and again.

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Thu Feb 22 2024
5

One of my favourite finds from this list so far. I had never heard her before, and had to listen to this twice. Enchanting.

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Thu Mar 21 2024
5

realmente increíble y los putos de spoti no lo tienen

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Thu Mar 21 2024
5

Few things bring me more joy than the fact that Joanna Newsom and Andy "Jizz In My Pants" Samberg are a couple.

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Tue Apr 02 2024
5

The lyrics near on Shakespearean on this one. While the vocals may not be everyone's cup of tea, this blew me away. To write lyrics like that that go on that long, WITH a few orchestra?? Gorgeous.

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Tue Apr 02 2024
5

Wild cosmic endeavor. Bjork meets Regina Spector meets Shara Nova. I can even hear some influence on Anais Mitchell and Hadestown. This album holds up. Hard to believe it’s 18 years old. The timelessness of the instrumentation, the otherworldly lyrics and the uniqueness of her voice help with that. Loved it!

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Thu Apr 18 2024
5

Bewitchingly beautiful, both musically and lyrically. I absolutely adored this album

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Wed Apr 24 2024
5

Don't have a lot of time on my hands today, and of course, of all the albums this list could have churned out, this is the one that comes out. Impossible for me to pen a proper review explaining why this record is great. Because *Ys* is a masterpiece, enough said. Not as directly effective as *The Milk-Eyed Mender*, which admittedly harbors its share of more easily-digestible gems. And yet as rewarding as Newsome's debut once you spent a few listens learning how to navigate inside its melodic digressions and many intricacies. At first, you need to apprehend this one just as you apprehend reading a poetry book in the middle of a Sunday afternoon. You sit with it, read and listen to the lyrics at the same time (sometimes cryptic musings, sometimes delightful "narratives"), and gape at every little detail inside. Then, after a few listen, you can equally return to this record in this mode, or conversely, you can play it as a soothing yet often lively soundtrack in the background. I've just spoken of "every little detail" in this admirable record, but it's not as if it was overflowing with so many layers either--the bulk of it, recorded by Steve Albini (but it could have been anyone else, basically) is pretty raw: it's Joanna's precise and enchanting harp, along with her high-pitched, frail-yet-fully-expressive voice, like a warble in your ears. Newsom feels very much like a Medieval or Renaissance bard telling us of her loves, losses, joys and sufferings through so many elegiac metaphors, or similes drawing from the world of animals and nature. Then, adding to this otherworldly atmosphere, you have Van Dyke Parks' elegant orchestral flourishes, underlining every event within the singer's yarns, and every inflexIon of her off-kilter voice. Plus a few other instruments here and there (banjo, guitar, accordion, marimba etc.). The songs are long, yes, but they need that time to properly develop their musical and narrative ideas, and they ALL build up to wonderful climaxes for each of their thrilling conclusions, that can have you sitting at the edge of your seats. Don't miss the latter in the longest cut, by the way, sung with Bill Callahan of Smog. Yes, "Only Skin" lasts for almost 17 minutes, but if you have leanings for experimental-yet-emotional "confessional" music, I can guarantee those 17 minutes just fly by. And the same can be said for each of the four other tracks in this record. 4.5/5 for the purposes of this list, rounded up to 5. Which translates to a 9.5/10 grade for more general purposes (5+4.5). 2006 is rather a "mid" year to be honest, filled with very few truly "essential" albums. It would heve been a shame not to have this one in the list. Number of albums left to review: 220 Number of albums from the list I find relevant enough to be mandatory listens: 338 (including this one) Albums from the list I *might* include in mine later on: 199 Albums from the list I won't include in mine: 250

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Fri Apr 26 2024
5

she rhymes "monkey" with "spelunking". nobody is doing it like her. this type of complex orchestral music often has this air of taking itself very seriously, but there's so much playfulness and whimsy in this album. it feels like a child staring in wonder at a rabbit crossing a field, or gazing up at the night sky. some of the lyricism has a certain feel to it that i only see recaptured in, weirdly enough, rappers like MF DOOM. there's something similar in the complex internal rhyme schemes and cryptic, nonsensical on-the-surface but internally consistent lyrics. the orchestration ebbs and flows with her storytelling and it's just beautiful, especially the harp and the strings. "C'mon, will you dance, my darling? Darling, there’s a place for us; Can we go, before I turn to dust?"

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Fri May 10 2024
5

*Listening Note* While not available on Spotify, it is available on youtube. What a beautiful album with harp and accompaniment. I appreciated the appearance of Bill Callahan, even if it seemed brief.

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Thu May 16 2024
5

OK, this is actually incredible.

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Mon May 20 2024
5

There are these albums that aren't supposed to exist... Well, this is one of them. A mainstream progressive/avant folk album in 2006? Featuring Van Dyke Parks as a musician and conductor? Steve Albini as an engineer and Jim O'Rourke at the mix? How can this be possible? Totally outcast. Well, here we are, and it's exquisite stuff, really.

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Mon May 20 2024
5

Gorgeous and unique, the kind of album that you just follow as it unfolds, without really knowing (or caring) where it's been or where it's going. You just go with the flow, and the flow is magical.

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Sat Jun 29 2024
5

Surprised by the low ratings. This thing is a journey, a sublime masterpiece. Full marks

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Thu Jul 04 2024
5

Well that was just lovely. Joanna Newsom writes great epics, Van Dyke Parks arranges beautiful strings, and Steve Albini was always a far better producer than just the 'difficult analogue noise' guy. A meeting of three brilliant minds, brilliant in itself.

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Fri Jul 19 2024
5

a starkly beautiful album. i suspect people will not be able to get past her voice, but i think it's quite interesting and love the timbre in contrast with the harp and orchestrated instrumentals. very fun, playful music. calming. really great!

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Tue Jul 18 2023
4

Poetic. Straddling a folk sound and classical. Never quite what you expect with a voice that calls from long ago but echoes the sixties. A demanding album.

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Mon Jul 24 2023
4

Struck by the mystical, childlike qualities of this album. It plays like a storybook, but one that requires some decoding. Really stands out, between the harp, orchestration, lyrics and vocal delivery - clearly a unique artist.

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Sun Aug 06 2023
4

This is a new artist and album for me and when it started I didn't think that I would enjoy this one. It took a few minutes, but then I became enchanted. I am not sure that I can ever really love this, because I cringe every time her voice makes that squeak. it was something special to listen to though!

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Mon Aug 14 2023
4

Much better than I expected, looking at the other comments. Her voice is certainly unique but not at all annoying. Good stuff, too bad it wasn't on Spotify.

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Thu Aug 17 2023
4

Huh. I had always heard of Joanna Newsom being a bit polarizing, but this was my first time listening to her music. I can hear the Regina Spektor/Tori Amos influence, both types of artists that took a while to grow on me. Sometimes the vocals were a bit quirky? But for the most part, I enjoyed the picturesque, descriptive lyrics and I'm a sucker for harp, even if it reminds me of my fifth-grade Medieval Day celebration a bit too much. Or that Encarta game, Mindmaze. Thankfully, IMO, the first song is the worst, so it only got better from there.

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Sat Aug 19 2023
4

There were a lot of factors conspiring to make me feel annoyed with this album, not the least of which is that Newsom's voice has some Björk-ish qualities, but once I settled in, it was quite an enjoyable experience, and there's no denying the poetry of the lyrics. Best track: Monkey & Bear

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Sat Aug 19 2023
4

Björk but good. Really good, god damn. I wasn't expecting to like this but I was completely enchanted. This sounds like something you'd hear a Disney princess singing. Seems like her voice is a bit controversial from reading the other reviews, but I like it. I get that the weird bird yelp she sometimes does can be kind of jarring at first though. Very talented! Glad I listened to this. Definitely doesn't deserve the low global rating (2.72 as of writing this review) - should be above a 3 at the very least!

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Wed Aug 23 2023
4

Not really sure what I think of this album. The instrumentation is absolutely gorgeous and the sprawling folk tales are impressive, but Newson’s voice hasn’t grown on me just yet (though I feel like it will after a couple more listens). I’m giving this an optimistic 4

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Mon Sep 18 2023
4

I remember Joanna Newsom being an absolute critical darling in the 00s, with "Ys" being the peak. But it is also very clear why this may not be a commercial hit. Despite the hype, I never listened. I mean, the 10 minute songs aren't really radio-friendly, so Newsom is one of those you have to seek out. Since I didn't take that initiative, I'll have to thank the 1001 for the exposure. I like progressive rock (though I'm learning not quite as much as I'd thought), and I like some folk, and the merger of the two makes for something interesting and unique. On the other hand, the way Newsom sings sometimes just comes off as Björk with a harp. A vocal style that could be really annoying... somehow works. Most of the time. Just like Björk. "Monkey & Bear" nearly lost me, but "Sawdust & Diamonds" was great and stood out as the best track. Apparently Newsom's first album, "Milk Eyed Mender," was more "twee," according to several reviews? I'm not totally sure what twee is, but I think more twee than "Ys" might be a turn-off? Though "Ys" may not push me to seek out more Joanna Newsom, it was a welcome listen that I would certainly revisit.

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Tue Sep 19 2023
4

I really like the tone and feeling of the record, all the harp is entrancing and the harpist is fucking shredding the whole time. The lyrics are dense and I can't seem to penetrate them on this listen through. Cosmia I could see Katie covering.

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Fri Sep 22 2023
4

I was kind of blown away by this. Really interesting and beautiful. Took me a bit to appreciate her voice. Sort of an American version of Bjork. I wish it was on Spotify, I would put it on frequent rotation. 4 stars.

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Sat Sep 23 2023
4

A series of five beautiful tracks detailing mythical stories that employ descriptive imagery to picture the fairy tales she shares. The string arrangements and cover match the medieval bard mood and execute it better than nearly anyone else renovating the medieval folk sound. The strings are sparse and minimalist, often following a repeating motif and matching the emotions of the story alongside her expressive, sincere voice. The song lengths are in her favor, to get very deep into the story just like 70s prog. It's interactive and exciting, keeping the audience in anticipation with resolution in waves. Loved all the tracks, and it's super consistent.

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Tue Oct 03 2023
4

A truly singular album. The only music really comparable is Joanna Newsoms other works. I will say that the album does get a bit monotonous. Not to make an outrageous claim like there not being a clear trajectory to the compositions, but at length it starts to feel something like a repetition of one musical idea. That is idea is a beautiful one, though.

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Sun Oct 08 2023
4

I totally understand why her sound is divisive, but I found a lot here to love. The folk sound with flecks of Bjork here and there is something I can definitely get behind. You do have to be in the right mood for it, mind.

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Sun Oct 08 2023
4

I’m not even sure how to describe this, but I like it. Quite unlike just about anything else, but “freak folk” seems as good a description as any.

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Mon Oct 09 2023
4

Var ekki viss um þetta við fyrstu hlustun, en þetta vann á, sérstaklega lögin þar sem það er ekki bara Newsom með hörpuna að syngja. Þetta er strax við aðra hlustun ljómandi fallegt og skemmtilegt, og eftirminnilegt. Grænt ljós hér.

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Fri Oct 13 2023
4

8/10 Fairytale music? Lit major songs? Ren Faire chamber pop? Music that tries to imagine a world where Bach never happened? I can see one medieval studies major saying "Finally! Someone is making music that caters to my exact tastes!" Sometimes she sings with hints of Bjork and Billie Holiday. Anyway, this is highly original, impeccably crafted, and maybe a little annoying-cutesy? She wields her significant vocabulary in a way that mostly isn't offputting. I think the word "twee" was thrown about indiscriminately regarding stuff like this. But this is too good for the label. Regardless, I like it very much, it's pretty awesome and who am I to judge music this much of itself? I am no one. I am overawed by its creator.

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Fri Oct 20 2023
4

Very weird bit I think that is the intention. Very powerful vocals with a sort of "witchy" feel. Enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

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Fri Oct 20 2023
4

Ys is a collection of five compositions more than it is an "album", but uses every modern technique to appeal and applies the natural rhyme everywhere it can. Newsom's choice there is captivating, and makes it easy to sink into the feeling of poems in traditional style. The album's world is not foreign, yet its colors bear the mark of elite creativity.

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Fri Oct 27 2023
4

Sometimes the line between genius and bad is pretty thin. I really didn't know what to make of this at first (and am still not sure I know exactly what to make of it to be honest). I think I really like it though? The album is very orchestral. There's lots of twinkling chimes and harps and things, so definitely a bit unconventional. It almost sounds like it should be the soundtrack for some sort of medieval period piece or something. The songwriting might be my favorite part of the album. The songs are beautiful and emotional and clever. In another era she might've been a great poet, but we got this instead. Newsom's voice is also really interesting. I'm reminded by the discussion of Nico's voice in a Velvet Underground podcast that I listened to, where they spent quite a long time discussing whether she's actually a good singer or not. I think Newsom's voice is probably great, but honestly I'm not 100% convinced it's even good. Newsom's voice is a bit squeaky almost, and it seems like she gets criticized for sounding child-like at times. I think it works though, she has great range and expresses incredible emotion in her singing. Anyway, I think it's really good, and I'm enjoying it even more on a second listen. Annoyingly it's not on Spotify (she REALLY doesn't like Spotify), but something about making me dig a bit harder for this seems on brand. I also think it's funny that she's married to Andy Samberg, they seem like they'd be a fun couple. Favorite song: Sawdust & Diamonds Other: Emily, Only Skin, Cosmia 10/26/23

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Fri Nov 03 2023
4

This has "divisive" written all over it, but I'm happy to say I enjoyed this album throughout. I'm not sure what to identify this genre as, but the melodies here never got boring or repetitive. Joanna made some interesting vocal choices at times, but there was something deeply satisfying about the lyrics and their melody that drew me into the music. It's nothing that I would've ever searched out, but I am glad I stumbled onto it in this list. Highlight: Monkey & Bear Lowlight: Cosmia (especially the last 90 seconds or so) Surprise Hit: Emily

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Sun Nov 05 2023
4

Great perform by Newsom. Highly recommend.

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Mon Nov 06 2023
4

Did you know she's married to Andy Samberg

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Fri Nov 10 2023
4

Wow great! Folky and lovely. I like the little squeak her voice does sometimes.

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Mon Nov 13 2023
4

TRes special, bon vibe, belle voix. originalité. 1hr un peu long. 4

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Mon Nov 13 2023
4

Given my aversion for the harp, I enjoyed it more than I thought i would

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Wed Nov 15 2023
4

these songs are soooo amazing. and i actually always enjoyed her voice a lot... "emily" is just... wow. i do think it does get a bit hard to listen and engage with it for the full run of the album. but that would probably change if i got a bit more familiar with the songs. it's so good.

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