Feeling wistful in this winsome winter weather? Well so are we, faithful listener, which is why we’re dedicating our first full episode of November to one of our all-time favorite songwriters: Joanna Newsom. And thankfully, this harpists’ siren song was enough to drag three-time castaway and possible cave-dweller Andrew McAlpine back to the island, to give his own skewed perspective on her brief but incredibly deep discography.
As one of the only survivors of the short-lived and abominably-titled “freak folk” movement of the early-oughts, Joanna Newsom made a name for herself by taking what first seemed like a gimmick—her status as a classically-trained pedal-harp player—and turning it into a career packed with dense lyrical brambles, impeccably constructed song-craft, and her own divisive, inimitable chicken-fried-Björk singing voice. She’s a sentimental favorite of everyone on this episode, leading to a surprisingly contentious but heartfelt discussion of the four albums she’s written to date. It’s an episode packed with heartbreak and unlikely alliances, capped off with our very first letters section! Also: Max reveals the origin of her vendetta against Van Dyke Parks, Andy shills for the pleasures of suburban Western Mass, and Ryan Shea gets just super roasted for, like, no reason. He’s not even on the episode. Sorry Ryan.