Joanna Newsom – Instrumental 1999
In our eyes, Joanna Newsom has reached a magical point of artistic infallibility. That might sound a bit overwrought, but anyone who has closely followed Newsom’s career will tell you that every work she produces or, in this case, every work that is unearthed, is in some way valuable. That’s not to say that each lyric that leaves her lips is holy, nor every pluck of her harp sacred, but that anything we get our hands on that was created by Newsom helps us build context. That is, with every track released, whether it is some of her objectively “best work” or her Andy Sandburg inspired B-game, we learn just a little bit more about one of the indie-music landscape’s most intriguing artists. “Instrumental 1999” demonstrates just how fluent Newsom is on the harp. Once the track gets underway and it’s just her and her instrument, you realize that the mechanics of it just aren’t an issue — she plays the instrument as if it’s not even there. That is to say, her comfort level with the harp is so high that she is able to produce a form of sonic expression that is about as pure and unmediated as possible.