Personnel: Joanna Newsom (vocals, harp); Joanna Newsom; Matt Cartsonis (banjo, mandolin); John Wittenberg, Cameron Patrick, Shari Zippert, Sharon Jackson , Edmund Stein, Gina Kronstadt, Vladimir Polimatidi, Julie Rogers, Peter Kent (violin); Caroline Buckman, Jessica van Velzen, Karen Elaine, Marda Todd, Miriam Mayer, David Stenske, Briana Bandy (viola); Giovanna Clayton , Erika Duke-Kirkpatrick (cello); Patricia Cloud, Susan Greenberg (flute); Van Dyke Parks (accordion); Peter Nevin, Jeff Driskill (clarinet); Phillip Fethar (oboe); John D. Mitchell (bassoon); Robert O'Donnell, Jr. (trumpet); Terrence Schonig (marimba); Grant Geissman (electric guitar); Leland Sklar (electric bass); Don Heffington (percussion).
Audio Mixer: Jim O'Rourke.
Recording information: Entourage Studios, LA (12/2005-06/2006); The Village Recording Studio, LA (12/2005-06/2006).
Arranger: Van Dyke Parks.
It shouldn't be a surprise that an artist as stridently unconventional as Joanna Newsom would make a second album that overturns all the expectations established by her first. While Newsom's harp, highly poetic lyrics, and distinctive, child-like voice will be familiar to fans of THE MILK-EYED MENDER, YS takes Newsom's art in a new, startling directions.
The quaint, self-contained folk portraits of the debut are obliterated here in favor of sprawling epics that recall sea shanties, Homeric myths, and progressive rock. Newsom's words are still highly literate and evocative, though they seem more narrative and symbolic than the surreal expressions of MENDER. The album is graced by string arrangements from Van Dyke Parks which create a swelling, dramatic counterpoint to Newsom's performances. Production assistance from indie-rock titans Steve Albini and Jim O'Rourke helps make this stellar effort one of 2006's most provocative releases.
Spin (p.95) - 4.5 stars out of 5 -- "Newsom plays her part with total, unblinking conviction, luxuriating in the lovely imperfections of her voice....The album functions as one long suite, a spellbinding poem."
Spin (p.62) - Ranked #06 in Spin's "The 40 Best Albums of 2006" -- "Newsom is an eccentrically voiced experimenter who follows her nonconformist muse wherever it may lead."
Entertainment Weekly (p.109) - "[C]o-producer Van Dyke Parks and a gorgeous full orchestra have an ameliorating effect....Lovely..." -- Grade: B+
Q (p.141) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[U]tterly entrancing...Part Renaissance poetry, part fairy-tale."
Alternative Press (p.190) - "[T]he beating heart of Newsom's tales, at turns whimsical and melancholic, enchant with a simple calculus: A woman, a harp and a story to tell."
Magnet (p.102) - "[T]echnically flawless and masterfully executed....Her harp rings mellow and silky..."
Dirty Linen (p.59) - "[T]he patient listener will be rewarded with music that is singularly beautiful."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.118) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "YS sees Joanna Newsome rapturously create her own crepuscular, unsettling world, riper than a full-bellied pomegranate."