The Milk-Eyed Mender review by Joanna Newsom

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  • Released: Mar 23, 2004
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.9 (7 votes)
Joanna Newsom: The Milk-Eyed Mender

Sound — 9
This album from Californian, Joanna Newsom conveys, very well, the simplistic and pure sounds of harp, piano and harpsichord. A very stripped-back song construction is the main feature on Milk Eyed Mender. Most tracks contain only one or two instruments, and I believe there is only one track with backing vocals from someone other that Joanna herself. a lot of the tracks with harp sound very modal. Her voice sounds like a childish indie-kid version of Dolly Parton, only with less country-esque yodelling. Despite the fact that there are very, very few instruments on each track, the songs retain a certain thickness to them. I give the sound a nine, because what she has set out to do, she has done very well.

Lyrics — 8
The lyrics and tone of her voice work very well together. She has a childish, almost screechy voice, but she still never sounds irritating (to me, anyway). Most people I say they find her unlistenable only because she has a voice that doesn't really suit the simple music she writes. I think that she is far more interesting because of this. Her lyrics are immature in the sense that they don't make a whole lot of sense, but I'm sure to people who are more in tune with lyrics that are not entirely interperatable (is that even a word) would be able to make some meaning from them. She sings well, even if some find her annoying. Her lyrics are interesting even if non-sensical.

Overall Impression — 9
It's strange, but enjoyable. I can think of anything off the top of my head that it sounds even remotely similar to. The best songs on the album are "Sprout and the Bean", "Sadie", and "Peach, Plum, Pear". I love the fact that harp features so much on this album, I love the fact that it is so strange yet so entertaining. But I hate the fact that her voice sometimes seems a little too annoying despite how much I love it.

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Amazing album but I think you missed the mark with the lyrics. They're not nonsensical but so dense that they come off that way. "Inflammatory Writ" for instance is simply about writer's block and a person's place among the legendary writers and "Great American Novels" (as she says). It's just so dense and full of wordplay that you need to get more into it to see that. Otherwise, very good review for an amazing album.