July 29, 2010
by Andy Martin

Joanna Newsom

San Diego Women's Club | 7/29/2010

There was a lovely woman with a woman at the San Diego Women's Club on Thursday. She was on her way in the door. She wasn't my type but we were a match made in heaven - she had an extra ticket and I could see it in her eye. I had none and we both loved a woman, for me her name was Joanna Newsom, for her I don't know, I didn't ask. Successful exchange and an hour later all the kids were a sweaty mess in their sunday best - better believe cause there was a harp in the hall and it was hot as hell.

Helming the harp for the first night of her tour was our leading lady (and also a sweaty mess) Miss Newsom. Toweling off her brow after even the softest ballad she was still irrepressibly cheerful. Between songs she was smiling mouth agape and attempting friendly stage banter with perhaps an overly attentive and silent crowd. For all her seductive sleeve photos on her new record and celebrity (sandberg) boyfriend, you find her at her instrument strikingly friendly, youthful and familiar. Singing coyly out of the side of her mouth she was remarkably in control of it's sound. Seeing her for the first time I was struck by the strength and almost sonorous nature of her voice, a thing for which she had been at first self-conscious then derided for on record in some circles.

For this latest live incarnation she is performing as a stripped down quintet: joined on harp by drums, two string players and the album arranger on guitar, banjo, recorder etc. The songs, were mostly taken from her the new variegated triple-disc Have One on Me, and had spare and intimate folky/chamber sound, unafraid of switching time and key they orbited tightly around Miss Newsom's impeccable playing.

Only a year my senior, closing out her twenties, I couldn't help but thinking Miss Newsom was already hitting her stride in her third musical rebirth having already shed multiple monikers: first as freak folk songstress (milk-eyed mender) then as Renaissance balladeer in avant-garde soundscapes (ys).

Met her after the show along with the seen-you-seventeen-times fanboys. (I had lost track of Newsom myself after heavy spins of the pop-tacular milk-eyed mender) and despite dodging my favorite poet queries she won me over on the night. Quite a gal. Look forward to what's next, thanks ladies one and all.


Words and Photos by Andy Martin

Tags: Joanna Newsom, San Diego Women's Club, Andy Martin

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