Joanna Newsom has never seemed to care much about mainstream appeal. While her fellow freak folkers Devendra Banhart and Animal Collective have racked up acclaim for their more radio-friendly efforts, Newsom has released a triple album, with some songs clocking in at nine minutes long.
But despite its flagrant disregard for short attention spans, Have One on Me might actually be Newsom's most listenable release yet-and it's definitely a candidate for most beautiful. Her childlike singing style seems to have matured, and she’s replaced some of the lush orchestral arrangements from her previous records with simpler violin and harp combos. Newsom’s voice often channels kindred spirit Kate Bush here, especially on the gorgeous opener “Easy.” Sparse, slow ballads “Baby Birch” and “Jackrabbits” recall crooners like Patty Griffin, and upbeat stomper “Good Intentions Paving Company” sounds more alt-country than it does freaky. But fans of weird Joanna, don’t fret: the 11-minute title track is (at least sometimes) about daddy longlegs and tarantulas. Throughout the album, the combination of Newsom’s dreamy vocals and lilting harp playing will almost certainly give you a heartache—the good kind that comes only from listening to such captivating, well-crafted songs.