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45 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Joanna's romantic phase
I could quite legitimately be described as a Newsom fanboy. I have loved everything she has done from the helium voiced early Ep's to the intricate fables of Ys. I have seen her live 10 times, and would quite like to marry her. So I am biased, I admit it. At the same time, I think I have a sufficiently independent mind to judge each album on its own merits, and am able to...
Published on February 23, 2010 by Mr. D. A. Jones

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40 of 56 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, not great, not altogether an expected progression, not a fulfillment of promise
I am happy for a new album, been waiting for it anxiously for what seems decades, and have no problem the album is over 2 hours. Should any Newsom fan really have an issue after sauntering along with the fantastic "Emily" or "Only Skin?" However... this is far from her Magnum opus.

No doubt I will get slammed for what is an honest opinion, and my dissention...
Published on March 1, 2010 by Nichole Beaulieu


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45 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Joanna's romantic phase, February 23, 2010
This review is from: Have One on Me (Audio CD)
I could quite legitimately be described as a Newsom fanboy. I have loved everything she has done from the helium voiced early Ep's to the intricate fables of Ys. I have seen her live 10 times, and would quite like to marry her. So I am biased, I admit it. At the same time, I think I have a sufficiently independent mind to judge each album on its own merits, and am able to hold my swoon long enough to engage my brain (this is not true at her concerts - she could sing me Uzbeki nursery rhymes backwards and I would be spellbound).

My initial reaction to 'Have One On Me' ( as with most of her output) was slightly puzzled and cautiously hopeful. I know from experience that the structure, punctuation and resonances of her work take time to settle and form, so I have let the music slosh through me and wash over me, holding back any critical judgement. And all of a sudden, as I hoped it would, the shape took form. While I have been familiar with some of these songs for a while now, it was a new new one, Go Long that seeded the crystal. The novelty of this album is a typically much longer melodic line, accompanied by a softer voice (brought about by a throat infection last year). The spacier, ringing arrangement of Go Long illustrates this change - gone are sharp points and counterpoints of The Book of Right On et al, or even the rush and tumble of Emily - instead she holds her voice, fluctuating or slowly descending around a slow, deliberate harp.

These songs are given much more musical space than the more wordy Ys, and this, combined with more varied arrangements and drawn out phrases, creates an initial impression of a hazy, unfocussed album. Once you catch the idea though, and let the slow ebb and flow of her newly sanded down voice carry you, you get it. Be it singing of abortion on Baby Birch, or of her own conception on '81, this new 'romantic' sound chimes with a much more straightforwardly emotional approach to her subjects - love, in form and in content, fills these songs. There are a couple which have not made their mark with me yet, but the album as a whole, listened to seriously and in silence, is a great and humbling listen, and I did almost cry many times - the 'kindness prevails' close to Esme had me shivering uncontrollably, and the closing Does Not Suffice is desperately sad and dare I say it, moving.

I have not had the time or wit to trace the links between these songs, but it is clear that some phrases, both musical and lyrical, reappear in different guises throughout the album - their is half jaunty, half sad blues line that haunts both Baby Birch and Does Not Suffice. I am certain that, as with her previous works, listening and relistening will repay and repay. I am looking forward to the work.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Adventures of Jackrabbit & Kingfisher, May 13, 2010
This review is from: Have One on Me (Audio CD)
If "Ys" from 2006 has taught us anything, its that eloquence & harmony can go together most remarkably, a fact that Joanna Newsom has attempted to replicate on this triple-disc project. As a standalone body of work it is peerless, as a companion piece to "Ys" it is transcendent, and as a cohesive statement about the artists' work, it is exemplary. However, despite the accolades that one might afford it, the project is indeed `difficult' and a labor to sit through, in portions. This is true even if one has been a Newsom follower for a while. It is also impossible to imagine taking all of this in during one sitting, as it is rather long-winded and deserves a dedicated amount of investment.

"Have One on Me" attempts to chronicle something, though of course the easiest word to ascribe to this is `relationship'. However, as "Ys" has shown us, the lyrical imagery birthed by her lyrics seem far removed from dry and mundane things such as humans and their romantic entanglements. That said, it is difficult to find the baroque, and indeed, medieval elements that made "Ys" so stunning, on this record. At best, this is a very different work, thematically and sonically, with various standouts at every juncture. Ironically, this listener found the much praised tracks ("Good Intentions Paving Company", "Does Not Suffice") to be amongst the weaker of the lot. It appears that Joanna really takes flight with the free-form tracks, and while she sounds pleasant enough on more conventional songs, it is her sprawling mess on the title track, and "Kingfisher" that automatically stand out.

The title track appears inspired by Lola Montez, a real life figure who at one point held sway amongst royal circles in Bavaria, and eventually threatened to bring down the Kingdom (her biography paints her all sorts of colors, but `not interesting' isn't one of them). She was acclaimed for her famous `spider dance' that reportedly ensnared the King of Bavaria who eventually alienated his entire parliament due to his inexplicable obsession with her. In reality, Lola Montez's story is even more fascinating as she became a notorious world traveler and engaged in all sorts of dubious professions before finally taking solace in Christianity. The song traces her journey upward (or whichever direction) and focuses on the prime of her life, which is when she was the talk of subcontinental Europe. As usual, Newsoms' verbose lyrics make this a trip worth taking.

Its also interesting to see that Newsoms' turn of phrase and verbal stylings have undergone a seachange since her last outing. Remember the almost Tolkien-like lyrics of "Emily", and most pointedly on "Only Skin" from "Ys". Gone are the Arthurian verbology of those times, and in its place is a more accessible, or should I say `suburban' sensibility to the songwriting herein. Songs like `Easy' are laughably simple, lyrically, that you wonder if Joanna hasn't traded in her quill for an urban typewriter. Regard this quaint lyric from "Go Long" and that should explain to you the general tone of the songwriting of this recording:

"Do you know why my ankles are bound in gauze
Sickly dressage, a princess of Kentucky
In the middle of the woods which were the probable cause
We danced in the lodge like two panting monkeys"

The strangeness of some of the lyrics are matched only by the curious musical arrangements. While "Ys" had an impressive string section with sweeping harmonies that appeared out of nowhere, this recording is far more subdued and a lot calmer, as it trades in those strings for more plaintive piano and harp arrangements. This is both a good and a bad thing as there is a certain `sameness' that permeates the entire album. While this worked to an extent on "Ys", the fact that it was a 5-track album perhaps masked the lingering suspicion that Newsom didn't have many tricks under her sleeve. But if you can get past the occasional `in a rut' passages (there are a couple of times where you would definitely feel `stuck' while listening to this, especially if you are attempting to listen to the 2+ hours at one stretch), you can appreciate the nuances that Newsom brings to the table as a composer. Indeed, there is nary a note out of place, nor a lyric that doesn't match itself to the melody, and for this she deserves high praise.

However, for many reasons, my personal favorite remains `Kingfisher' which appears at the end of this album. It's a big song, not as big as some of the others here but still very, very long and does not conform to any rhythmic structure. Its all over the place but eventually begins to rein it together towards the end as it ties together the various musical elements that came before it. The cryptic lyrics are double entendre, as they veer from straight-forward to masked, and the song can be construed in three very different fashions. Consider these words:

"We came by the boatload
And were immobilized
Worshipping volcanoes
Charting the loping skies
The tides of the earth
Left us bound, and calcified
And made as obstinate as obsidian
Unmoving, save our eyes
Just mooning and blinking
From faces marked with coal
Ash cooling and shrinking"

But as the song proceeds, such technicalities are left to the wind, as she becomes more direct, more personal, leading up to some of the best songwriting shes ever come up with:

"And I saw that my blood had no bounds
Spreading in a circle like an atom bomb
Soaking and felling everything in its path
And welling in my heart like a birdbath"

Joanna Newsom may be clubbed along with Devendra Banhart in the `freak folk' movement (a tag that I totally disagree with, by the way), but her ability to write is at least twenty times better than Banharts. Sonically she is moving closer and closer to indefinable territory. There are patches on this record where the newly ascribed Joni Mitchell comparisons seem valid, and there are other places where the Kate Bush comparisons seem resoundingly fair (the album does contain strains of `Hounds of Love', in all fairness). But with her mellowed-down voice, the more direct songwriting, the absolute disregard for musical convention, and her core work with her self-taught instrument - the harp, she has transcended genre and evolved into a completely new musical genre of her own. This is most evident throughout this album, and while "Ys" had hinted at it, "Have One On Me" confirms it.

As there is no living record that could possibly compare to this, save for Newsoms' own "Ys", perhaps you would do well to check out that record first before coming to this. For long-time Newsom aficionados this should be a breeze to get used to (but honestly, I see this album revealing itself over years, not months or days). However, if you could find beauty within "Ariel" by Kate Bush, "The Isle of Dreaming" by Kate Price (whose musical instrumentations can be readily compared to this record), "Parallelograms" by Linda Perhacs, and "Emily" by Emily Dilinger (long out of print, sadly), then this album will definitely work for you. Obviously Newsom makes music that will be discussed, heard, and dissected over generations of music lovers, so this ones for keeps. If any album by a male artist could come close to this, it would have to be "Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon" by Devendra Banhart.

Five Stars. An indispensable addition to your independent music collection. File next to Banhart, Vashti Bunyan, Jana Hunter, & Meg Baird.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is Newsom Perfected - and Plentiful, February 7, 2011
This review is from: Have One on Me (Audio CD)
Yeah, sure, I know, it's been months since Have One On Me was released. Many months. But this is a triple album. And not just any 'ol triple album, a long, heavy, stylistically diverse triple album from one of today's most unique and indescribable musicians. The question, in this writer's opinion, is not "why did I take so long to review the record," but, rather, "how did all these other reviewers get to know these songs so quickly?" (In my world, you have no business writing a word about an album until you really get to know it.)

To say that Have One On Me is a whopper of a record is an understatement. Have One On Me, Newsom's third proper studio record and first since she released her modern day classic, Ys, is beautiful stuff - elegant even. Absolutely original, and in many, many different ways - no doubt about that. The real questions here are simple: 1) Is Joanna Newsom able to build on the majesty and mystery of Ys, and, if so, how could that even be possible? and 2) Did she really need to release a triple album?

We'll start with question No. 2. Yes, she needed to release a triple album. Why? Well, because the style of music Newsom makes is overwhelming. Taking up about 124 minutes of disc space, Have One On Me could've easily fit on two discs with room to spare. But Newsom, wisely, I think, split her songs up into three separate pieces, by doing so, keeping her listeners from feeling overwhelmed. I was skeptical at first, and thus slow to play along. Eventually I started digging in, getting to know one disc at a time, spending about a month or two with each disc before moving on to the next - no matter how strong the urge to jump ahead was. The result? About nine months of never-boring and very-frequent Newsom-love. The only other proper triple album I ever kept in my collection, The Clash's Sandinista!, is a great one, for sure, but not the kind of album that you can explore for the better part of a year. No, only Have One On Me, and endlessly interesting listen, offers that much entertainment. (And maybe Bitches Brew.)

For starters, the record is far more accessible than the previous two Newsom records - flirting with jazz, pop and even blues genres, as well as her usual outsider folk sound. The songs, averaging about six minutes in length (some are nine minutes, some three) and all pretty elaborately composed, almost all feel like little journeys, full of musical twists and turns - vocals leading the way at almost every second of every song. Like Ys, there are plenty of string arrangements and, of course, Newsom's signature harp playing. But we also hear a healthy amount of piano and, most importantly (to my ears, at least), a whole new vocal style. While Newsom claims that her voice changed due to "natural reasons and health problems" (which very well may be true), it seems like she's been slowly developing her singing style since her debut, leaving behind her once overbooked style in favor of a more natural, elegant approach. Needless to say, she's become one of the best and most creative American vocalists around - not just her voice, but the many different ways she uses it, adding buckets of nuance to every line.

I've seen where other reviews have compared Newsom to Laura Nyro, Kate Bush and Joni Mitchell. Meh. Sure, I think fans of those ladies would love Newsom ... but all four artists so have their own thing going on. I could go on, describing the songs and why I like them so much, talking about all the different ways Newsom has adapted her signature sound in order to warrant putting out the unthinkable - a triple record. I could talk about how dreamlike and pixie-friendly her lyrics continue to be, or how mysterious she, in general, continues to be. I won't. This is one of those records that you just have to hear - over and over again - to understand. And, honestly, despite this being a challenging and long record, the chances are good that you might even like much of it - which isn't something I would've ever felt comfortable saying about Newsom before this record. There are even songs here that could be confused as college radio single fare, if you can believe it.

In closing, I'd like to add a third question: 3) How lucky are we to have such a unique voice working in her prime? And not just a unique artist working in her prime, but a young, growing artist who is so generous that she'll release a triple album! Before the release of Have One One Me I was constantly asking myself how good Joanna Newsom really is. Sure, her first record, 2004's The Milk-Eyed Mender, was a good freak-folk listen, but I always felt it was a bit schtick-y, mostly due to her then-extreme vocal style. Ys, a record I consider to be something of a landmark in the history of modern indie music, was the record that made me a solid fan. But, to this day, I've wondered about that album. Not only did Newsom have the brilliant Jim O'Rourke working on the record, but she had the legendary Van Dyke Parks on her studio team - as well as Steve Albini and Bill "Smog" Callahan. How could you not make a great record with such company?

Speculate no more. Not as long as Have One On Me - a record made by an artist who has clearly gone through a period of deep and diverse genre exploration - exists. Sure, there are a handful of lesser songs here, but that's expected when you release over two hours of new, non-jammy studio music. The bulk of the record is as amazing as anything Newsom has ever done, solidifying her place as not just one of the best of her time, but a matchless artist who appears to be an absolute genius of craft and style. An amazing record that should've been in my Top 5 of 2010, and the best triple record since 1980's Sandinista!, if not ever.
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40 of 56 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, not great, not altogether an expected progression, not a fulfillment of promise, March 1, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Have One on Me (Audio CD)
I am happy for a new album, been waiting for it anxiously for what seems decades, and have no problem the album is over 2 hours. Should any Newsom fan really have an issue after sauntering along with the fantastic "Emily" or "Only Skin?" However... this is far from her Magnum opus.

No doubt I will get slammed for what is an honest opinion, and my dissention should not take away from those who are in love with this CD. I'm simply calling this what I feel it is, more mundane than her previous work. Not to say that there aren't some real jewels on this as there certainly are! While I'm happy to own it, As a whole I simply don't think this is of the same wit, whimsy and caliber as her previous work.

I agree with the more middle-road reviewers here. Every Picasso painted wasn't great but listening to the flag-waving fanboys you'd think they were. I also gave the new record a few weeks listen (you can pre-listen on the web at NPR and the usual off-kilter reviewing urls), and while there are moments of absolute Joanna genius on this, "81'" and "Jackrabbits" being amazing standouts, there are also a few songs just too common, or maybe just too out of character. I'm already fast forwarding songs to avoid the discordant songs. Someone mixed a few of these to make them more easy listening and it's grating. Plus, where the heck did "Good Intentions Paving Co." come from? How did this Jazz-infusion come out of the same person who wrote "Yarn and Glue," and "Peach, Plum, Pear?" I hate to say it, but the song is just dreadful. I think I'll start mourning now if Newsom has decided to steer towards Jazz, and the person who made the decision to mix in the corny horns in some of these songs needs to be slapped.

Also, anyone else notice the vocal style change? No one can begrudge the natural evolution an adult goes through. Just look at Joni Mitchell at 18 vs now in her 60s... vastly different. Still, I miss the nasal fey timbre that first unsettled me and then drew me in. Previous albums proved her voice beautiful in its flawed nature... now you only get shades of it, and mixed with delivery it's quite obviously intentional. I dislike the new polished Joanna. What's odd to me are the reviews who called Joanna unlistenable before this album and now rave about her vocal development on this album. While not on every song, I think many of these have lost her vocal uniqueness and to me it's not a good thing.

Not to be all negative. The CD **really is worth investing in** and the good absolutely outweighs the bad. I am happy for a new album, was happy to preorder it, will enjoy a number of these tracks but will be skipping a handful which has never happened on her records before.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To make it short and sweet..., June 12, 2010
This review is from: Have One on Me (Audio CD)
When I first listened to this album, I was not impressed. I did, however, read the lyrics before I listened to the album, which are quite beautiful. I noticed something different in her...which is strange. This album has a feeling to it, not just a storyline. I noticed her voice was calmer, sadder. She doesn't squeak as much, and her voice and the music all together seem to flow and flow. I felt the vibration of love lost, love wanted, and fear of "the end" (many ends) were all common themes. It seems she is searching, growing...and for her age this is about right.

I related very much to many of her words, and to hear her sing them afterward created a bonding, a want to listen to the songs over again. I love that the songs are so long, because each song changes pace and tune so many times- and I find that with Joanna, I always end up having to listen to a whole song just to hear a certain part, even before this album. Sawdust and Diamonds is a good example. Seems her style to turn one song into three. We should be grateful that we can get so much out of her!

I am particularly fond of the second song, 81, and I am falling in love with the album more each day. It was a slow, bumpy ride in my ears upon playing the album the first time, but now it is smooth and soft.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Album For the Winter, December 3, 2010
This review is from: Have One on Me (Audio CD)
This is undoubtedly Miss Newsom's best record yet for a few major reasons.

First, and most importantly, it seems she has worked on her voice. It has a much more developed tone and there is now the unmistakable use of vibrato on nearly every track which endows each song with a classical professionalism which has been lacking in her prior two releases.

Second, the lyricism has been stepped up both in its thematic content, a few songs continue to bring me to tears, and its brilliantly creative use of metaphor. This is something lacking in most modern music today and Joanna Newsom has proven that she has a mastery of it. The subject matter still deals with what seems likeEarly Americana, love and loss but on Have One On Me these themes are just presented with more eloquence.

Third, the melodies that are struck on the harp and how they are intertwingled with her voice at point are extremely comlex in their musical form yet still manage to be accessible. The standout tracks are '81, No Provenance, and the short On A Good Day.

I am a Joanna convert from the post-rock genre and this album has made my "top ten" list...of all time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Outstanding Leap Forward, May 3, 2010
This review is from: Have One on Me (Audio CD)
Where can Joanna Newsom go from here? It's an exciting thought. Because if she continues these quantum leaps in excellence with every new album, there is no knowing what new frontiers she can reach in her music. This is a much more epic, more fully realised work than Ys (and that's really saying something!). Not only has it 18 songs compared to Ys's 5 but it also contains much more instrumental diversification and a much more delicate and sensitive production. Her voice is much richer and more versatile than before and her lyrics more personal and less obtuse. There are many many highlights: the upbeat, pulsating and quasi-pop Good Intentions Paving Company; the beautiful Far Eastern-inflected tracks Baby Birch and Kingfisher; the moving lyricism of In California. But there are no weak tracks or fillers in this 2-hour masterclass. The influences are obvious: Kate Bush, Bjork and Joni Mitchell to name but three but Newsom is bringing something greater to fruition in her work than her forebears were able to. This is a brave and bountiful masterpiece from surely the most original artist in contemporary Western music.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Difficult, April 15, 2010
This review is from: Have One on Me (Audio CD)
As a fan of other quirky, independent-minded singer/songwriters such as Bjork, Tori Amos, Laura Veirs and Imogen Heap (and their great predecessors, Joni Mitchell and Kate Bush), I read the reviews of Joanna Newsom's work with great interest. I listened to the samples from this CD and decided to give it a try. Well, I tried, I really did. I even attempted listening to just two or three songs at a time, but even this proved difficult. I'm an open-minded listener with extremely eclectic taste, and have always respected musicians who tinker with the standard pop song format. However, these songs just don't hold together for me, even with the obvious talent behind them. Newsom's voice becomes annoying after a short while, especially when it becomes apparent that there are no tunes or hooks to grab hold of, and the songs are overly long and meandering. To my ears, this music sounds fairly formless and I might even venture to say that Newsom is deliberately trying to alienate any listener who likes melody and rhythm. Just when you think she's going to get a groove on, she switches direction, and that usually turns out to be pretty shapeless, too. I gave this music a chance to grow on me, but so far, it hasn't. I wanted to like Newsom, but ended up failing to see why she's received such high praise. It's just a personal opinion, but an informed one. I give the CD 3 stars for technical merit, and with an understanding of her outsider appeal and her admirable effort to avoid commericalism. Still, these aspirations should not result in unlistenable music, and with a few exceptional moments here and there, that was, indeed, the result of Newsom's experimentations for me. I guess I'm too conventional after all, needing an actual tune once in a while, and some instrumental variety from song to song. Newsom's harpistry and piano playing are impressive, and what little percussion there is provides additional interest; I often found myself wishing she'd ditched the singing and just went for an instrumental work (and I'm a guy who loves female vocalists)!

Noteworthy are Newsom's lyrics, which are often quite interesting, and sometimes contain lovely imagery, but at other times I find them fairly incomprehensible. It is helpful to follow the lyrics in the booklet as you listen to the songs, if for no other reason than to try and understand what the artist is trying to do. Newsom is often compared with and considered similar to Davendra Banhart, another artist I have tried and failed to fully appreciate. Those reviewers who love Ms. Newsom are, of course, entitled to their opinions, and I see these as evidence that there is still a market for challenging, creative music. In this case, though, it doesn't work for me.
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17 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I will stay for the remainder..., February 23, 2010
This review is from: Have One on Me (Audio CD)
I can exclaim with tremendous joy and admiration that our little elfin harp-maiden has given us her masterpiece in "Have One on Me," her third album. Her evolution is masterful on these three beautifully intricate little connected "albums," each threaded to each other and yet somehow vital and satisfying in their own right.

Certain days I'm a disc one kind of guy. Tomorrow I might be in the mood for disc three. Who knows? Therein lies the beauty of this album. In dividing these songs over three discs and connecting them in such a way as to reveal the brilliantly interwoven disc-to-disc and album-spanning connections between these songs, "Have One on Me" begs us to dive in with insatiable gusto; with a lust to downright cake ourselves in its rich, inviting soil.

This album was designed to be digested piece by piece, so pacing is obviously essential. Repeated listens and exploration are not only rewarding, but absolutely transcendent. Don't be afraid to open up that little lyric booklet either. The poetry therein is unrivaled in contemporary music.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful collection, June 4, 2010
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This review is from: Have One on Me (Audio CD)
I would consider myself a moderately enthusiastic Joanna Newsom fan. I admire her obvious originality but have often found her music a bit tedious and actually, despite its originality, limited in scope. This CD however is a genuine leap forward. The tunes are lyrical and pleasing, without sacrificing any of the originality so evident in her previous works. The collection works nicely as a whole. I find it has grown on me and evolved with repeated listening. Highly recommended.
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Have One on Me
Have One on Me by Joanna Newsom (Audio CD - 2010)
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