It’s been 5 years since harpist/pianist/songwriter/vocalist/all around musical anomaly, Joanna Newsom released and toured her beautifully massive 2 hour-plus triple album, Have One On Me. In that time, she’s popped up intermittently to do such things as contribute vocals to the theme for The Muppets movie, make a cameo on Portlandia, and participate in a benefit for Big Sur‘s Henry Miller Library for which she performed with with Philip Glass and Tim Fain in San Francisco in 2012. During that benefit, she debuted a new song on her harp, which has been referred to as “The Diver’s Wife” and went on to debut another new song titled, “Leaving The City” during her appearance at the 2013 Pitchfork music festival. So, while he haven’t received a full on album from the ethereal songstress in half-a-decade, it’s clear that she hasn’t been lying completely dormant; she does have her personal life to tend to — Joanna married comedian Andy Samberg in 2013 — and a skillset and interests beyond music — Newsom both starred in and narrated the Paul Thomas Anderson film, Inherent Vice that was released last year. But while this is all understandable and great, the real fans have been waiting for the next album to drop, knowing that the artist has been cobbling something together with tremendous care in her absence, these occasional glimpses of new songs being little gems only building that anticipation.
Today we get our first real chunk of information about the final product. The brand new Joanna Newsom album will be called Divers and has a scheduled release date of October 23rd from Drag City records. The 11-song release was recorded by legendary producer, Steve Albini of Shellac and Big Black fame, and longtime Newsom collaborator/former bandmate in San Francisco freak folk outfit, The Pleased, Noah Georgeson. Aside from Albini‘s endless list of remarkably impressive credits elsewhere (In Utero, Surfer Rosa, Goat, Meantime, American Don, etc. etc. etc.), he previously worked with Newsom on her critically acclaimed 2006 album, Ys. Georgeson, who also mixed Divers alongside Joanna, has not only produced and performed for an impressive list of artists in his own right (Devendra Banhart, Bert Jansch, Os Mutantes), but also produced her very first Drag City release, The Milk-Eyed Mender in 2004, and even helped her record her original self-released CD-R EPs, which led to her getting signed by the label, onto a computer, before that — she had previously been using a Fisher Price tape-deck.
The new album features contributions from the entire list of musicians featured on the 2006 Joanna Newsom And The Y’s Street Band EP, with Neal Morgan and Kevin Barker as players and both Ryan Francesconi and Dan Cantrell offering arrangements to the project. Further arrangements include those by Dave Longstreth of Dirty Projectors and Newsom herself, with additional musical contributions coming from her brother, Peter Newsom and City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.
More details, including album art and a full tracklist can be found below, but first thing’s first. Here’s the brand new video for the first single,”Sapokanikan,” which was directed by her Inherent Vice director, and one of my all time favorites, P.T. Anderson (Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood, Magnolia, Punch Drunk Love, The Master). If the song sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because it’s been making the rounds since Newsom first debuted this track at the Treasure Island Music festival back in 2012, although it’s consistently been referred to as “Look And Despair,” until now.
Between the release of Ys and Have One On Me, some noticeable evolution took place in Joanna‘s sound, namely a shift in her vocals and a broader inclusion of piano on her compositions. What she left us with then was a solid amount of material; just enough to almost tied fans over until this new album announcement. With this latest 5 year gap, we’re incredibly interested to hear more of what she has in store, but one thing that we do know is that it’s been meticulously crafted until the point that she felt that it was ready.
As the Drag City press materials inform us “The packaging of Divers is driven by the spectacular and otherworldly images of contemporary artist Kim Keever, alongside photographs by Annabel Mehran.”
Here’s what the new album cover art looks like:
And here’s the tracklist…
03. Leaving the City
04. Goose Eggs
05. Waltz of the 101st Lightborne
06. The Things I Say
08. Same Old Man
09. You Will Not Take My Heart Alive
10. A Pin-Light Bent
11. Time, As A Symptom
Additional videos and an extensive tour is underway, so you’ll probably want to keep your eyes peeled for that.
Pre-orders for DIVERS in 2xLP, Cassette, CD, and digital formats are currently available for purchase through Drag City Records.