Scrolling Headlines:

UMass tuition set to rise 3-4 percent for 2017-2018 school year -

July 18, 2017

PVTA potential cuts affect UMass and five college students -

July 10, 2017

New director of student broadcast media at UMass this fall -

July 10, 2017

Whose American Dream? -

June 24, 2017

Man who threatened to bomb Coolidge Hall taken into ICE custody -

June 24, 2017

Cale Makar drafted by Colorado Avalanche in first round of 2017 NHL Entry Draft -

June 24, 2017

Conservatives: The Trump experiment is over -

June 17, 2017

UMass basketball lands transfer Kieran Hayward from LSU -

May 18, 2017

UMass basketball’s Donte Clark transferring to Coastal Carolina -

May 17, 2017

Report: Keon Clergeot transfers to UMass basketball program -

May 15, 2017

Despite title-game loss, Meg Colleran’s brilliance in circle was an incredible feat -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball loses in heartbreaker in A-10 title game -

May 14, 2017

Navy sinks UMass women’s lacrosse 23-11 in NCAA tournament second round, ending Minutewomen’s season -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball advances to A-10 Championship game -

May 13, 2017

UMass basketball adds Rutgers transfer Jonathan Laurent -

May 13, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse gets revenge on Colorado, beat Buffs 13-7 in NCAA Tournament First Round -

May 13, 2017

Meg Colleran dominates as UMass softball tops Saint Joseph’s, advances in A-10 tournament -

May 12, 2017

Rain keeps UMass softball from opening tournament play; Minutewomen earn A-10 honors -

May 11, 2017

Former UMass football wide receiver Tajae Sharpe accused of assault in lawsuit -

May 10, 2017

Justice Gorsuch can save the UMass GEO -

May 10, 2017

Joanna Newsom’s latest is ‘One’ to be reckoned with

Four years ago, in a duet with Smog’s Bill Callahan, Joanna Newsom sang “I love you truly, or I love no one.” Curious, how in a career seemingly ridden with fantasy allusions and eccentricity, the conclusion to one of her greatest songs was something as relatable and emotional as that.

With her latest release, “Have One on Me,” Joanna Newsom has gone one step farther. She has eliminated such allusions almost entirely from her songwriting. She has assumed an almost entirely personal style. A style which, while sometimes pulling from recognizable sources, never feels like anything other than Joanna Newsom fully-actualized.

One accusation that has been lobbied against the release is its lengthy content. This is understandable, due to the fact that she pulled no punches for “Have One on Me.” The music on this album covers four LPs, and a full listen takes 124 minutes. Only three of the album’s 18 songs are under five minutes, and most are over seven. Joanna’s frequently meandering – but never dragging – tempos mean the listener truly experiences every moment.

For the most part, we are in lyrically dense territory. As long-time listeners already know, half of Newsom’s appeal lies there. But for the first time on a large scale, listeners are almost entirely meant to be emotionally engaged with the lyrics, rather than admiring them from afar. With her new musical variation, Newsom has not explicitly compromised her sound – another accusation which could easily be used against her.

Instead, she has given herself a larger canvas for her expression. There are road songs, Gershwin tributes, even an almost Carole King-ish potential single. She excels at every genre. Her tales of identity confusion, daddy-long legs and lost love are worlds unto themselves.

Consequently, this could be read as grand statements, easily leading one to dismiss these currents in Newsom’s new work for several flaws. However wonderful it may be, self-indulgence is self-indulgence. And, on first listen, certain songs feel like filler. The third disc in particular almost seems to blend together. But additional listening eventually comes to reveal certain charms- and sometimes peaks- no matter what the song may be.

The album’s expansive quality allows for fascinating musical twists at every point. “Baby Birch” is basically a cowboy ballad performed solo on the harp. Five minutes in, a rather dissonant electric guitar enters the mix. Rather than acting as an imposition, it gives the song an almost disturbing element – it jars slightly, but there’s not even a question about it working. The same guitar noise returns on the closer, “Does Not Suffice,” where its effect is almost tear-inducing.

Every song contains its own moment to treasure. The gorgeous tale in “In California” states at one point that “sometimes I can almost feel the power.” The evidence of this power can be heard in Newsom’s extended vocal and musical breakdown, during which she imitates a cuckoo clock. And yet, in the context of the song, the technique could not be any other way.

One can hope that others will listen to this album. Joanna Newsom may not have revolutionized music with “Have One on Me,” and she probably won’t inspire legions of imitators, but she has released an incredible work, which deserves to be listened to for years to come.

Mark Schiffer can be reached at

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