Joanna Newsom’s music is pretty inaccessible. For one thing, she plays the harp and uses other traditional instruments on her records, alienating a large number of Indie music fans. She also sounds like Lisa Simpson on helium. The only new song on this EP, “Colleen”, may be a plea with the holdouts, though; she seems to say “Hey, I know I play the harp, but I can write songs you can dance to, too!” It’s a nice way to kick of this EP, and makes my mouth water for her follow-up to last year’s spectacular Ys.
The remaining two songs are re-workings from previous records. “Clam, Crab, Cackle, Cowrie” is from Walnut Wales, her first self-released recording, and The Milk-Eyed Mender, her first LP. The arrangement is basically the same stripped-down harp-based tune. The last song is a much longer and wilder version of “Cosmia,” the final cut on Ys. What was already a 7-minute (actually the shortest song on Ys) epic has been sprawled out to 13, and what was once a low-key (nearly) solo number is now a full-band epic.