Ys (Joanna Newsom album)

Ys (/ˈs/ EESS) is the second studio album by American musician Joanna Newsom. It was released by Drag City on November 14, 2006. The album was produced by Newsom and Van Dyke Parks, recorded by Steve Albini, mixed by Jim O'Rourke, with accompanying orchestral arrangements by Van Dyke Parks. It features guest vocals from Bill Callahan and Emily Newsom. The vocals and harp were recorded at The Village Recording Studio in Los Angeles in December 2005, with the orchestration being recorded between May and June 2006 at the Entourage Studios in Los Angeles.[6]

Studio album by
ReleasedNovember 14, 2006 (2006-11-14)
RecordedDecember 2005–June 2006
StudioThe Village Recording Studio and Entoorage Studios in Los Angeles, California
LabelDrag City
Joanna Newsom chronology
The Milk-Eyed Mender
Have One on Me

The album consists of five tracks with song durations ranging from 7 to 17 minutes that deal with events and people who had been important in Newsom's life in the year previous to recording. These events include the sudden death of Newsom's best friend, a continuing illness and a tumultuous relationship.[7] The album was named after the city of Ys, which according to myth was built on the coast of Brittany and later swallowed by the ocean. The album's title was the last element to be confirmed and was a result of a dream that Joanna had which featured the letters Y and S and a book recommended by a friend that contained reference to the myth.[7] Newsom grew up near Yuba and Sutter counties in California, an area which is commonly abbreviated as "YS" for "Yuba-Sutter", which may have additionally inspired the title.

Ys received acclaim. It was Newsom's first album to chart in the Billboard 200, where it peaked at number 134, and charted in the United Kingdom, France, Norway and Ireland. It has featured on several music publications' lists of the greatest albums.

Production edit

The album features full orchestra arrangements by Van Dyke Parks on four of the five tracks. Parks also contributes accordion. Newsom's harp and vocals were recorded by Steve Albini and the orchestra was recorded by Tim Boyle. Newsom and Parks produced the album and it was mixed by Jim O'Rourke. The recording process was completely analog, on two 24-track tape recorders. The music was mixed to tape and mastered at Abbey Road Studios.[8]

Bass guitar is contributed by Lee Sklar, and electric guitar by jazz guitarist Grant Geissman. Don Heffington played percussion and Matt Cartsonis played mandolin and banjo. Bill Callahan provides backing vocals on the song "Only Skin", while on "Emily", these are sung by Joanna's sister, Emily Newsom, after whom the song is named.

The album, particularly the length of the songs and orchestral arrangements, was partially inspired by the 1971 Roy Harper album Stormcock.[9] In September 2007, Harper supported Joanna Newsom at her Royal Albert Hall performance, playing Stormcock in its entirety. Newsom was also impressed by Van Dyke Parks' 1967 album Song Cycle, and asked him to collaborate on Ys after listening to that record.[7]

On her fall 2007 tour, Newsom performed the album in its entirety, backed by a 29-piece orchestra.[10]

Reception edit

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic     [12]
Entertainment WeeklyB+[13]
The Guardian     [14]
The Independent     [15]
MSN Music (Consumer Guide)C+[16]
Rolling Stone     [19]
Spin     [20]
Uncut     [3]

Following its release in November 2006, Ys received widespread critical acclaim. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 85, indicating "universal acclaim".[11] Chris Dahlen of Pitchfork called Ys "great because Newsom confronts a mountain of conflicting feelings, and sifts through them for every nuance".[18] Describing it as "incredibly likeable, and more convivial than the twee Milk Eyed Mender", Jimmy Newlin of Slant Magazine dubbed Ys "a precious—in every sense of the word—masterpiece".[21] Uncut's John Mulvey felt that though its "vast scale" opens up the potential for "self-indulgence" and "prog folly", upon listening to the record "all the doubts evaporate. Every elaboration has a purpose, every labyrinthine melodic detour feels necessary rather than contrived."[3] Heather Phares of AllMusic described Ys as "a demanding listen, but it's also a rewarding and inspiring one",[12] while Alexis Petridis of The Guardian concluded that the album is a "hard sell, perhaps, but it could be the best musical investment you make all year".[14]

Pat Long of NME wrote that Newsom "has managed to lessen the twee factor of her last record, in the process crafting an album as bewitching as it is odd."[17] Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly felt that Newsom "remains an acquired taste", but that Van Dyke Parks' contributions and the album's orchestration "have an ameliorating effect on the too-precious warble that either bewitches or repels."[13] The Independent's Andy Gill wrote that Ys "leaves one in no doubt of her oddball credentials" and "rarely, if ever, has an artist so assiduously cultivated cult status".[15] Among negative assessments, Rolling Stone critic Christian Hoard called the album "hard to stomach" and plagued by overlong tracks "with meandering strings-and-things accompaniment and indulgent vocal quirks that make Björk sound like Kelly Clarkson."[19] Robert Christgau, in his Consumer Guide column for MSN Music, wrote that much of the "sprightly" qualities of The Milk-Eyed Mender had been "subsumed here by ambition, to be kind, and privilege, to be brutally accurate", and that the album's songs "reveal only that her taste for the antique is out of control".[16]

Ys became Newsom's first album to chart in the United States, peaking at number 134 on the Billboard 200.[22] The album was later nominated for a 2007 Shortlist Music Prize.[23] As of March 2010, Ys has sold more than 250,000 copies.[24]

Legacy edit

In 2016, several critics wrote articles in response to its 10th anniversary. Dubbing it Newsom's "greatest achievement", Drowned in Sound's Adam Turner-Heffer credited her and the album with proclaiming US indie music as "the dominant force" for the remainder of the 2000s. Noting that it "[stood] the test of time", he claimed that it improved when focusing on where indie and folk went in coming years.[25] "A career-making masterpiece", Stereogum's Chris DeVille praised Ys for establishing Newsom as "one of the greatest creative forces of her generation." He lauded her vocals' switching "between formalism and casual, folksy delivery", noting how it complimented her compositions. These aspects made the album "a rare instance of modern music with no real precedent."[26] Vice's Isobel Stone named Ys Newsom's "defining album", comparing it to what [The Beatles'] Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, [Bruce Springsteen's] Born in the U.S.A., and [Radiohead's] OK Computer were to their respective artists.[27]

In 2016, Chance the Rapper referred to Ys as "one of my favorite albums of all time".[28] Frances Quinlan, who fronts indie rock quartet Hop Along, dubbed it "by far one of the affecting albums of my life" and Newsom as influential to them.[29] Strand of Oaks' Timothy Showalter expressed his admiration of the album and Newsom's lyrical gifts, writing that she "stands at some grander place than me, and I am deeply reassured by that."[30]

Accolades edit

By the end of 2006 Ys appeared in more than 50 year-end lists, placing inside the top 10 in 35 of them, including a #1 ranking in Tiny Mix Tapes' Top 25 Albums of 2006,[31] and CHARTbeat's Top 100 Albums of 2006 [32] a #3 ranking on Pitchfork's Top 50 Albums of 2006,[33] and a #7 ranking Time magazine's 10 Best Albums of 2006. Despite a negative review by the US Rolling Stone,[34] the German version of the magazine named the album the second greatest of the year.[35] The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[36]

In 2009, the album started to appear in many "best of the decade" lists. Pitchfork named Ys the 83rd greatest album of the 2000s. Calling Newsom "unlike anyone else" aside calling the album "the most artistically ambitious indie rock enterprise of the decade"[37] Ys is one of two Joanna Newsom albums placed inside the top 100, the other being The Milk-Eyed Mender.[38] UK magazine Uncut placed the album inside their "150 greatest album of the decade" list, at number 21. Gigwise named Ys the 32nd greatest album of the 2000s commenting that "the record rightly received blanket acclaim upon its initial release and is already sounding better with age. Whether she'll ever top this new-folk masterpiece remains to be seen."[39] The Times placed the album at number 26 in their top 100 albums of the decade list,[40] while The Guardian named it one of the '1000 Albums To Hear Before You Die'.[41] British magazine Clash placed Ys at number 13 in their '50 Greatest Albums Of Our Lifetime' list.[citation needed] German magazine Musikexpress named Ys the 92nd greatest album of the last four decades (1969–2009).[citation needed] Two Spanish magazines, Playground and Rock de Lux, have respectively named Ys their 83rd and 15th greatest album of the 2000s.[citation needed] About placed Ys at number one inside their greatest album of the decade list.[42] In 2010, Tiny Mix Tapes named the album the 18th greatest of the 2000s and Cokemachineglow.com the 81st.[43][44] Rhapsody named it the 46th best album of the 2000s (decade).[45]

In 2020, Daniel Radcliffe selected the song "Emily" as one of his choices for the BBC Radio 4 program Desert Island Discs, describing Newsom as an artist "who gets weirder and more wonderful and more imaginative every time she comes back."[46]

End of year edit

End of decade edit

Other edit

Track listing edit

All tracks are written by Joanna Newsom

2."Monkey & Bear"9:29
3."Sawdust & Diamonds"9:54
4."Only Skin"16:53
Total length:55:38

Personnel edit

Orchestra edit

  • Peter Kent – violin, concertmaster
  • Francine Walsh – violin
  • Shari Zippert – violin
  • Sharon Jackson – violin
  • Julie Rogers – violin
  • Gina Kronstadt – violin
  • John Wittenberg – violin
  • Cameron Patrick – violin
  • Larry Greenfield – violin
  • Adriana Zoppo – violin
  • Vladimir Polimatidi – violin
  • Edmund Stein – violin
  • David Stenske – viola
  • Briana Bandy – viola
  • Caroline Buckman – viola
  • Jessica Van Velzen – viola
  • Marda Todd – viola
  • Karen Elaine – viola
  • Miriam Mayer – viola
  • Erika Duke-Kirkpatrick – cello
  • Giovna Clayton – cello
  • David Stone – bass
  • Bart Samolis – bass
  • Peter Doubrovsky – bass
  • Peter Nevin – clarinet
  • Jeff Driskill – clarinet
  • Susan Greenberg – flute
  • Patricia Cloud – flute
  • Phillip Feather – oboe
  • John Mitchell – bassoon
  • Robert O'Donnell – trumpet
  • Steven Durnin – French horn

Charts edit

Chart (2006) Peak
Australian Albums (ARIA)[64] 98
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[65] 71
French Albums (SNEP)[66] 168
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[67] 98
Irish Albums (IRMA)[68] 50
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[69] 29
UK Albums (OCC)[70] 41
US Billboard 200[22] 134
US Heatseekers Albums (Billboard)[71] 1
US Independent Albums (Billboard)[72] 5

References edit

  1. ^ Paul Hegarty; Martin Halliwell (December 2, 2021). Beyond and Before, Updated and Expanded Edition: Progressive Rock Across Time and Genre. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 324. ISBN 9781501370830.
  2. ^ "The 100 Best Indie Folk Albums of All Time". Paste. May 20, 2020. Retrieved April 15, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c Mulvey, John (November 2, 2006). "Joanna Newsom – Ys". Uncut. Archived from the original on November 24, 2006. Retrieved March 5, 2010.
  4. ^ Comingore, Aly (May 17, 2010). "Joanna Newsom - Have One on Me". Santa Barbara Independent. Retrieved April 16, 2022.
  5. ^ Pitchfork Staff (October 2, 2009). "The 200 Best Albums of the 2000s". Pitchfork. Retrieved April 28, 2023. But her follow-up, Ys, still feels shocking: Arguably the most artistically ambitious indie rock enterprise of the decade...
  6. ^ Ys (liner notes). Joanna Newsom. Drag City. 2006. DC303CD.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  7. ^ a b c Davis, Erik (December 23, 2006). "Arthur Magazine Feature on Joanna Newsom". Arthur. Retrieved November 24, 2011.
  8. ^ "Joanna Newsom's 2nd album details". BrooklynVegan. August 16, 2006. Retrieved January 12, 2008.
  9. ^ Guarino, Mark (December 2006). "Joanna Newsom: Strings Attached". Mark-Guarino.com. Archived from the original on January 7, 2020. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  10. ^ Solarski, Matthew (October 22, 2007). "Photos: Joanna Newsom with Orchestra [Milwaukee, WI; 10/21/07]". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on October 24, 2007. Retrieved January 12, 2008.
  11. ^ a b "Reviews for Ys by Joanna Newsom". Metacritic. Retrieved February 24, 2010.
  12. ^ a b Phares, Heather. "Ys – Joanna Newsom". AllMusic. Retrieved March 5, 2010.
  13. ^ a b Greenblatt, Leah (December 27, 2006). "Ys". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on September 17, 2018. Retrieved August 3, 2015.
  14. ^ a b Petridis, Alexis (November 3, 2006). "Joanna Newsom, Ys". The Guardian. London. Retrieved March 5, 2010.
  15. ^ a b Gill, Andy (November 3, 2006). "Album: Joanna Newsom". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on February 12, 2009. Retrieved March 5, 2010.
  16. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (February 2007). "Consumer Guide". MSN Music. Retrieved August 3, 2015.
  17. ^ a b Long, Pat (November 6, 2006). "Joanna Newsom: Ys". NME. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved March 5, 2010.
  18. ^ a b Dahlen, Chris (November 13, 2006). "Joanna Newsom: Ys". Pitchfork. Retrieved June 29, 2012.
  19. ^ a b Hoard, Christian (October 12, 2006). "Joanna Newsom: Ys". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on February 14, 2007. Retrieved August 3, 2015.
  20. ^ Wood, Mikael (December 2006). "Strange Beauty". Spin. 22 (12): 95. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  21. ^ Newlin, Jimmy (November 16, 2006). "Joanna Newsom: Ys". Slant Magazine. Retrieved June 29, 2012.
  22. ^ a b "Joanna Newsom Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved January 7, 2009.
  23. ^ Martens, Todd (April 30, 2007). "Shortlist Music Prize Finalists Announced". Billboard. Retrieved January 12, 2008.
  24. ^ Rosen, Jody (March 7, 2010). "Joanna Newsom, the Changeling". The New York Times. Retrieved March 7, 2010.
  25. ^ Turner-Heffer, Adam (11 November 2016). "The Friday Fangasm: Ys by Joanna Newsom / In Depth // Drowned In Sound". Wayback Machine. Archived from the original on 2021-07-12. Retrieved July 17, 2022.
  26. ^ DeVille, Chris (November 4, 2016). "Ys Turns 10". Stereogum. Retrieved July 17, 2022.
  27. ^ Stone, Isobel (November 3, 2016). "A Decade of Joanna Newsom's 'Ys,' the Toughest Album Ever Made About Meteorites and Papier-Mache Doves". Vice. Retrieved July 18, 2022.
  28. ^ Helman, Peter (August 11, 2016). "Now Chance The Rapper Is Giving Away Other People's Albums For Free". Stereogum. Retrieved October 8, 2022.
  29. ^ Pelly, Liz (September 13, 2018). "Joanna Newsom Is The 21st Century's Timeless Voice". NPR Music. Retrieved October 8, 2022.
  30. ^ Showalter, Timothy (July 30, 2020). "My Favorite Album: Strand of Oaks on Joanna Newsom's "Ys"". Under the Radar. Retrieved October 8, 2022.
  31. ^ Tiny Mix Tapes Staff. "2006: Tiny Mix Tapes Favorite Albums of 2006". Archived from the original on 2009-02-11. Retrieved 2008-01-12.
  32. ^ "Top 100 Albums of 2006". 2006-12-31. Archived from the original on 2016-01-19. Retrieved 2008-01-12.
  33. ^ a b Pitchfork staff (2006-12-19). "Top 50 Albums of 2006". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2016-07-29.
  34. ^ "Ys". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on December 14, 2006.
  35. ^ Schulze, Thomas. "Rolling Stone - Deutsche Ausgabe - Popular Music Best-Of-Lists List - 2002-2006 - hartbeat! die besten, CDs, album, alben, records". Rz-home.de. Archived from the original on 2011-10-02. Retrieved 2011-11-24.
  36. ^ Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (2014). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 978-0-7893-2074-2.
  37. ^ a b "Staff Lists: The Top 200 Albums of the 2000s: 100-51 | Features". Pitchfork. 2009-09-30. Archived from the original on 2009-10-06. Retrieved 2011-11-24.
  38. ^ "Staff Lists: The Top 200 Albums of the 2000s: 50-21 | Features". Pitchfork. 2009-10-01. Archived from the original on 2009-10-03. Retrieved 2011-11-24.
  39. ^ a b "The 50 Greatest Albums of the 2000s!". Gigwise. 2009-09-17. Retrieved 2011-11-24.
  40. ^ a b "The 100 best pop albums of the Noughties". The Times. London. 2009-11-21.
  41. ^ a b "1000 Albums to Hear Before You Die". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2016-07-29.
  42. ^ a b "Albums of the 2000s - Best Alternative Music of the Decade". Altmusic.about.com. 2011-06-16. Archived from the original on 2010-02-27. Retrieved 2011-11-24.
  43. ^ a b "Favorite 100 Albums of 2000-2009: 20-01 | Staff Feature". Tiny Mix Tapes. 2009-01-20. Retrieved 2011-11-24.
  44. ^ "List / Top 100 Albums of the 2000s | Features". Cokemachineglow.com. 2010-03-16. Retrieved 2011-11-24.
  45. ^ "100 Best Albums of the Decade, 41-50 - Rhapsody: The Mix". Blog.rhapsody.com. 2009-12-04. Retrieved 2011-11-24.
  46. ^ "Daniel Radcliffe, actor". Desert Island Discs. 2020-03-15. Retrieved 2020-03-20.
  47. ^ "DiS's top ten albums of 2006, as voted for by YOU". Archived from the original on 2012-03-08. Retrieved 2009-01-07.
  48. ^ "Favorite Albums of 2006". Archived from the original on 2007-10-13. Retrieved 2009-01-07.
  49. ^ "Rewind 2006". Metacritic. Retrieved 2009-01-07.
  50. ^ "Continental Drift (Otis Hart)". Retrieved 2009-01-07.
  51. ^ "2006 Gummy Awards". Retrieved 2009-01-07.
  52. ^ "Definitive Albums of 2006". Archived from the original on 2007-02-06. Retrieved 2009-01-07.
  53. ^ "2006 Jackin' Pop Critics Poll". Idolator. Retrieved 2009-01-07.
  54. ^ "Spin's 40 Best Albums of 2006". Spin Magazine. Archived from the original on 2011-12-09. Retrieved 2009-01-07.
  55. ^ "The 2006 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll". The Village Voice. Retrieved 2009-01-07.
  56. ^ "The Observer's best albums of the year". The Guardian. London. 2006-12-09. Retrieved 2009-01-07.
  57. ^ "Time Magazine's 10 Best Albums of 2006". 2006-12-17. Archived from the original on February 4, 2007. Retrieved 2009-01-07.
  58. ^ "2006 in Albums". Metacritic. Retrieved 2009-01-07.
  59. ^ "PopMatters Picks: The Best Music of 2006". Retrieved 2009-01-07.
  60. ^ "DOA's Best Albums of 2006 – The Top 10". Delusions of Adequacy. Retrieved 2008-08-05.
  61. ^ "Top 50 Albums of 2006". Stylus Magazine. Archived from the original on 2016-10-01. Retrieved 2008-08-05.
  62. ^ "Uncut's Albums of the Decade: Part three - The Top 50!". Uncut.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2010-12-05. Retrieved 2011-11-24.
  63. ^ "The 100 best albums of the 21st century". The Guardian. 13 September 2019. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  64. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (PDF ed.). Mt Martha, Victoria, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. p. 202.
  65. ^ "Ultratop.be – Joanna Newsom – Ys" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved January 7, 2009.
  66. ^ "Lescharts.com – Joanna Newsom – Ys". Hung Medien. Retrieved January 7, 2009.
  67. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Joanna Newsom – Ys" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved January 7, 2009.
  68. ^ "GFK Chart-Track Albums: Week 45, 2006". Chart-Track. IRMA. Retrieved January 7, 2009.
  69. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Joanna Newsom – Ys". Hung Medien. Retrieved January 7, 2009.
  70. ^ "Joanna Newsom | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved January 7, 2009.
  71. ^ "Joanna Newsom Chart History (Heatseekers Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved May 29, 2021.
  72. ^ "Joanna Newsom Chart History (Independent Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved January 7, 2009.