Have One on Me

[Drag City]

Harpist, pianist and singer Joanna Newsom doesn’t seem to have been in any hurry to deliver her highly anticipated third album, her first in four years. Likewise, the tunes on the three-disc Have One on Me refuse to be rushed—melodies meander, introductions stretch languidly and defiantly, and more tracks than not extend past the six-minute mark. The expansiveness often suits Newsom’s unique sound, particularly her whisper-thin voice and the overall theatricality of her compositions. When these elements jell, they approach the sublime, as in the fluid “Easy”—an album-opening torch song that hypnotizes from the first tender words—the waltzing “Kingfisher” and the ethereal “No Provenance.” But there’s also a lot of sameness in these two hours, and as a whole, Have One on Me is something of a slippery mystery. Whether that captivates or frustrates listeners may depend on their mood. – Katie Dodd

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