“Newsom is as much an outlier as she ever was, though the allure of her rejigged cabinet of wonder remains undimmed.” Pitchfork
“A winding path, strewn with blossoming melodies, it’s such a pleasure to lose yourself in this.” Beat
“Lyrically, ‘Sapokanikan’ is bookish, but its melodies are more than infectious enough to leave it ringing in your head long after its five minute run time has passed.” NMR (On Repeat)
…further along and down the road apiece from where she took her leave of us, Joanna Newsom plays on. Breathe deep and equalise your today-ears to the new world of Divers…
Good heavens – five years go by – what can one do? 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 Shepard-toned resonant-frequencies and something called goddamned Simulacreage…
The music of Divers is a wonder of considered arrangements – a taut line, threaded with the pearls of passed and passing times…a round, a chant, an incantation…a ray of light diverted eleven ways, into eleven songs that striate, in chromatic collusion, their simultaneous arc…a span that takes in lifetimes, but is immaculately sequenced for telescoped brevity. The music speeds with dissociative dread over montaged cityscapes; it hoofs with delight among the collaged quotations and sepia-toned codices of Popular Song; it ambles its carefree citational course through the public domain and down into the dustier corners of municipal parks, to lionise infamous airmen and anonymous Dutch Masters, to mourn pearl divers and Poorwills, and to elegise the ineluctable tragedy of relativity – a tragedy of parochial time, anecdotal time, dubious time…
At the centre of the mythos and the maelstrom is the woman. Divers reminds us that Newsom is a melodist, above all – an acolyte of melody and beauty in form, a crackerjack of emotional truth conveyed with undiluted immediacy. ‘The Things I Say’ seems a naked admission, after the epic swales of war and peace that precede it, and yet this sudden moment of piano and voice falls seamlessly into the flow, buffeted by the haunting winds of a musical saw and time-slipping reversal at the finish.
…so that, at the aortic confluence of such a complexity of strings and wires, winking beneath the lacquered layers of instrumental nacre, biding quietly between the ranges of rhapsodic arrangement – including those by Nico Muhly, Ryan Francesconi, Dave Longstreth, Dan Cantrell, and Newsom herself – there lies an intimacy seldom achieved, and simply heard. Divers dives forth with a pure love and respect for the traditions and mysteries of man, such that we can feel the surge of life itself passing over our bones as we hear the songs and sounds, the players – among them Kevin Barker, Peter Newsom, Neal Morgan, and the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra – and the arrangements; as basic maths are reviewed to uncover heights of joy and sorrow, all traced in triumphal arches and supernumerary rainbows through eternal amber, gleaming in analogue entrapment – with that VOICE riding high atop; the vast embodiments and boundless refinements of her singing suffused amid the tidal intake and outtake of cellulose acetate – recorded with snow-bright, high-noonverity by Steve Albini and Noah Georgeson, mixed in phantasmagoric, deep-seasaturation by Noah and Joanna, and loosed, fuckin’ FINALLY, on October 23rd by Spunk Records. We have reached Peak Newsom. Divers is coming, to incline into your many and varied lifelines, for now and then and the rest of the moments that will always return in your lifetimes again.
PS: The packaging of Divers is driven by the spectacular and otherworldly images of contemporary artist Kim Keever, alongside photographs by Annabel Mehran.
PPS: Intensive press, radio and television promotional campaigns are already underway in support of Divers.
PPPS: The video premiere of ‘Sapokanikan’ (directed by Paul Thomas Anderson) is only the beginning for Divers — watch for additional video events happening in time.
PPPPS: Joanna Newsom will be playing shows far and wide for a long time following the release of Divers, don’t worry!
JOANNA NEWSOM – DIVERS – OCTOBER 23
WATCH/EMBED ‘SAPOKANIKAN’ VIDEO NOW
03 Leaving the City
04 Goose Eggs
05 Waltz of the 101st Lightborne
06 The Things I Say
08 Same Old Man
09 You Will Not Take My Heart Alive
10 A Pin-Light Bent
11 Time, As A Symptom
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