The Milk-Eyed Mender

March 23, 2004 | Format: MP3

Song Title
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Product Details

  • Original Release Date: March 23, 2004
  • Release Date: March 23, 2004
  • Label: Drag City
  • Total Length: 52:04
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B000W1NER8
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (152 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,862 Paid in Albums (See Top 100 Paid in Albums)

Customer Reviews

This is a GOOD ALBUM, but you must give it a chance and be willing to listen.
S. Horsington
With her whole package - the harp, the lyrics, even the voice - this album is a wonderful experience.
I can tell you right now, you're never going to hear a voice like Ms. Newsom's again.
Briar Gates

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

179 of 203 people found the following review helpful By skytwo on April 1, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Joanna Newsom will never find a popular audience. The idea of a classically-trained singing harpist who plays American folk music would pretty much guarantee that, but Newsom's vocals are also an acquired taste-- of the sort that probably causes most fans to endure accusations of just trying to be hip, and not actually enjoying the music.
However, if you take in some of the samples and decide that you find Newsom's voice charming rather than grating, you're in for a special treat. For a young whippersnapper, her music manages to include many sophisticated elements, including a pleasantly reverent, old-timey, Appalachian sound that lingers beneath the atmospheric melodies. The American south that Newsom creates is highly idealized, but never so decrepit or depressing as to be gothic.
The lyrics are as important as the music, and although they can sometimes be frustratingly obscure, they are often disarmingly witty ("like a slow, low-flying turkey/ like a Texan drying jerky"), and even make ironic use of the pretentious academic jargon that seems to have become the lingua franca of 'empowered' college women these days. Yes, it's smart and artsy, but it's also genuinely fresh and engaging. Keep up the good work, Ma'am.
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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful By E. Dill on October 8, 2006
Format: Audio CD
I've just finished scanning most of the reviews to date. We've got those who loved the album from the I did. Then there are those that hated it initially but found that it grew on them. Finally, we have those who hate it, find it either some intellectual joke played on them or the worst example of a singer who can't sing they've ever heard.

Like all of us, we can only truly discuss what WE feel....not what others feel, why they feel it and who's fooling whom.

This, to me anyway, is a transcendent album and Newsome is a voice I will not forget. (I know, I know, you detractors won't either!). It's a little girl voice with a big jarring sound coupled with odd phrasing and pronounciation (I mean, M.I.A. IS Sri Lanken, Joanna is American!)

I remember a time when I was still a teen and first heard free jazz. I was bowled over by its harshness but felt some of what has been suggested here. Were they kidding? Was this noise and nothing more? Then, rather slowly, it came to me. It came to me NOT because someone told me I SHOULD like it. It came viscerally. It was almost like pure emotion. The sax would scream, cry, howl, laugh....sometimes all in one piece. I still remember standing in the back of a local club, listening to a great local tenor sax player (Ernie Krivda) moving from a post-bop thing to some free jazz. He literally had me weeping with the emotion of the music he was playing.

As for folk singers, Iris Dement has that quality to her voice. I haven't a clue whether Iris' voice is pure or stylized, just like I haven't a notion about Joanna's either. I DO know that those who like Dylan's phrasing MUST know that his most famous version of his voice WAS "developed".
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Daniel H. Bigelow VINE VOICE on March 25, 2007
Format: Audio CD
I haven't had as strongly and immediately positive a reaction to an artist in years as I did when I heard some tracks from Joanna Newsom. I thought the only time I would fall so quickly for a quirky artist who can't sing would be that time I first heard Tom Waits playing at a record store years ago, but Newsom's incredibly catchy harp melodies, her unconventional lyrics, and her squeaky-hinge voice combined into something that absolutely knocked me over at first listen. I waited impatiently by the mailbox until I got this CD, with the tunes of singles "Bridges and Balloons" and "The Sprout and the Bean" running almost constantly through my head.

Once I got this album, I found to my relief that Newsom's work is consistent throughout and that it held my attention through repeated listens. Newsom's off-tune, off-kilter voice wears far better than one might expect and her tunes are pop-like in the way they hook themselves into the brain like Velcro. Her lyrics are a double-edged sword on repeat listens in that there is a lot of depth to them - they are more poetry than traditional pop lyric - but some verses (a remarkable minority, actually) are art-student twee.

The good in this album far, far outweighs the occasional pretension in the lyrics. I'm over the moon about Newsom and I listen to this album over and over. I imagine it is true, as other commentators have noted, that Newsom's singing voice, if you can really call it that, could be a stumbling block for many listeners. It usually is for me. But in my opinion, Newsom makes it work.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Gunnar Isaacson on November 18, 2007
Format: Audio CD
On first listen I was amazed by this album. How could she be so audacious as to not to attempt (at least) to create a "pretty" sound? When you make an album don't you do everything to make it "pleasing to the ear?" I realized after a few tracks... she doesn't care about that. These are her songs and she does them her way and that's that... take it or leave it. I was, however blown away by the fact that someone would choose not "try to make it pretty." That's guts.

Next the lyrics started to roll over me and through me. Word play, that's what I thought next, and I love word play. Clever snippets of lyrics stayed with me. I found myself going back to the songs for reasons I could not explain other than it pleased me to hear them again.

I read some reviews. I liked a "strangled squirrel" comparison I read. That's not totally off the mark (at certain moments.) I also agreed with comments like "not like anything else you will hear this year." So far, that is certainly true.

On careful listening (headphones, man!) I came to love most of these songs, perhaps it will be all of them eventually. They entertain me and I suspect they are entertaining my soul a bit as well. How much popular music falls into that category?

One rule this album breaks is that popular/folk music is supposed to be pleasing to the ear. They rioted when "The Rite of Spring" debuted. Most of us don't really want to be challenged with anything too new or different and this qualifies.

I enjoyed reading the negative reviews. Certainly, I can understand those who cannot get beyond "the voice." You are forgiven and may go in peace. To those whose expectations were fanned by the New York Times, I am sorry.
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