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World's Leading Terrorist State
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"Five songs, fifty-five minutes, what-an-album!
is to Ms. Newsom a dream collaboration between her voice and harp and a full orchestra -- a sound many of us fans have thought we were hearing when listening with closed eyes at her concert performances. Songs familiar to Joanna's following are a big part of
, having been performed in concert over the past year -- but not with the arrangements you'll find on four of the five songs here (one song being 'classic' Joanna; which is to say, solo). The songs, conceived with harp and voice and tracked as such by Steve Albini, were arranged with kindness and love by the legendary Van Dyke Parks over several months of correspondence and collaboration with Joanna. At the end of the day, the instrument count included strings, woodwinds, and brass plus dulcimer, marimba, various percussive instruments (including a horse skull!), banjo, mandolin, electric bass guitar (played by master of mellow Lee Sklar), electric guitar (played by jazz-great -- and-definitive-MAD-magazine-authority, Grant Geisseman), and accordion played by Van Dyke himself. If this seems like a bit of an overfull house -- wait'll you hear the mix Jim O'Rourke made of it! It's light and lilting, with Joanna front and center and sounds blowing and tearing and swelling around her, in perfect consort. The wide-screen beauty of
is due to, among other things, a scrupulously all-analog production involving forty-odd tracks spread over two synched-up 24-track tape machines, mixed to tape and mastered at Abbey Road, home of the all-analog mastering path!"
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