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Ys (joanna newsom album)

The meaning of «ys (joanna newsom album)»

Ys (/ˈiːs/ EESS) is the second studio album by American musician Joanna Newsom. It was released by Drag City on November 6, 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.[4]

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.[5] 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.[5]

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.

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.[6]

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.[7] 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' 1968 album Song Cycle, and asked him to collaborate on Ys after listening to that record.[5]

On her fall 2007 tour, Newsom performed the album in its entirety, backed by a 29-piece orchestra.[8]

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".[9] Chris Dahlen of Pitchfork called Ys "great because Newsom confronts a mountain of conflicting feelings, and sifts through them for every nuance".[16] 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".[18] 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."[1] Heather Phares of AllMusic described Ys as "a demanding listen, but it's also a rewarding and inspiring one",[10] 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".[12]

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