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Joanna Newsom:: YS (Album Review)

Meandering, mysterious and festooned in Van Dyke Parks’ fussily baroque orchestrations, Ys is a record that gives up its treasures slowly. Its five helium-voiced, harp-propelled essays are not so much songs as oblique, Pre-Raphaelite epic poems – you imagine the elfin Newsom spends weekends letting down her tresses from high castle windows. Studded with arcane symbolism, it’s rhapsodic and daringly recherché stuff which, in lesser hands, might amount to grand folly. It’s to her great credit that Newsom (literally) plucks artistic triumph from the jaws of cloying whimsy.
(David Sheppard)