Top 100 Artists of the Decade: #100 Joanna Newsom
The Top 100 Artists of the Decade list and the Top 100 Albums of the Decade list will be posted over the course of 100 days. On September 23rd, we will post an artist and album and continue every day until December 31st, when we will unveil our #1 artist and #1 album of the decade!
Please read our introduction to learn about our nominating and ordering process.
#100 Joanna Newsom
Our 100th most influential artist of the decade is probably the most unique artist on the entire list, in a worldly/otherworldly sort of way. Joanna Newsom crept out of the woods and onto the iPods of critics and artists in 2004, gaining some minor acclaim for her debut album, The Milk-Eyed Mender. The initial reaction wasn't all too great, but certain publications took notice and boldly championed Newsom, an artist that was unconventional to say the least. I remember reading an article in some giant music magazine that listed what Isaac Brock (Modest Mouse) was listening to. One of the artists he mentioned was Joanna Newsom. I thought to myself, "This has to be really good..............or really bad." Slowly, articles and rave reviews began popping up everywhere, as if the album was something that took several months to digest. By the time I got a hold of the album, the buzz was at it's peak and I was eager to discover the cause of all the hype.
Well, after the first listen, I understood that my theory about the lapse between release and critical acclaim was shot because I loved it off the bat - the harp, the voice, the tall tales. Some may shy away from her voice, but they probably love American Idol, too, so......... Her voice is so innocent and it delivers her folk tale lyrics so well. She was truly a breath of fresh air in 2004. However, in spite of my love for her music, I honestly believed that it wouldn't last - a follow-up would undoubtedly flop. I knew that another album of these little mountain fairy tales would be repetitive and exponentially dull. I've never been so wrong.
In 2006, Joanna Newsom followed her critically-acclaimed debut with Ys, an enchanting piece of symphonic imagination. Each song sprawled for what seemed like hours, as if each track served as a tiny opera. Beyond Newsom's voice and harp, Van Dyke Parks supplied string arrangements, which brought her sound from the valleys of lost woods up to the peaks of cloud-covered mountains. Newsom soared beyond my expectations and, in doing so, made her one of the best artists to come out of this decade.