Ys (Joanna Newsom album)

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Ys
Studio album by Joanna Newsom
Released November 6, 2006 (2006-11-06)
Recorded December 2005, L.A.
May–June 2006, L.A. (orchestra)
Genre Folk, avant-garde
Length 55:38
Label Drag City
Producer Joanna Newsom, Van Dyke Parks
Joanna Newsom chronology
The Milk-Eyed Mender
(2004)
Ys
(2006)
Have One on Me
(2010)

Ys (pronounced /ˈs/ EESS) is the second album by Joanna Newsom. It was released by Drag City on November 14, 2006 to widespread critical acclaim. 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. In recent years, the album has been featured on several music publications' lists of the greatest albums of the 2000s (decade) as well as all-time.

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.[1]

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 inspired by the 1971 Roy Harper album Stormcock.[2] 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.[3]

On her fall 2007 tour, Newsom performed the album in its entirety, backed by a 29-piece orchestra.[4]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic (85/100)[5]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[6]
Drowned In Sound (10/10)[7]
The Guardian 5/5 stars[8]
NME (8/10)[9]
The Observer 5/5 stars[10]
Pitchfork Media (9.4/10)[11]
PopMatters (10/10)[12]
Robert Christgau C+[13]
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars
Uncut 5/5 stars[14]

The album leaked onto the Internet over two months in advance of its release when it was left unprotected on servers belonging to music criticism website Pitchfork Media.[15]

Ys is Newsom's first album to chart on the U.S. music charts and it has sold more than 250,000 copies.[16][17] The album entered the Irish Album Chart at #50, and was also nominated for a 2007 Shortlist Music Prize.[18] The track "Emily" was ranked #9 in Pitchfork Media's Top 100 Tracks 2006.

Since its release on November 14, 2006, Ys has received widespread critical acclaim, including a #1 ranking in Tiny Mix Tapes' Top 25 Albums of 2006,[19] and CHARTbeat's Top 100 Albums of 2006 [20] a #3 ranking on Pitchfork Media's Top 50 Albums of 2006,[21] and a #7 ranking Time magazine's 10 Best Albums of 2006. It currently has a score of 85 out of 100, the 15th highest scoring album of 2006 on Metacritic. By the end of 2006 Ys appeared in more than 50 year-end lists, placing inside the top 10 in 35 of them.[22] Despite a negative review by the US Rolling Stone,[23] the German version of the magazine named the album the second greatest of the year.[24] According to Acclaimedmusic.net Ys is the third best album of 2006,[25] and the 27th greatest record released that decade[26] and the 271st greatest of all-time.[26] The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

In 2009, the album started to appear in many "best of the decade" lists. Pitchfork Media 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"[27] Ys is one of two Joanna Newsom albums placed inside the top 100, the other being The Milk-Eyed Mender .[28] 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."[29] The Times placed the album at number 26 in their top 100 albums of the decade list,[30] while The Guardian named it one of the '1000 Albums To Hear Before You Die'.[31] British magazine Clash placed Ys at number 13 in their '50 Greatest Albums Of Our Lifetime' list.[32] German magazine Musikexpress named Ys the 92nd greatest album of the last four decades (1969–2009).[33] Two Spanish magazines, Playground and Rock de Lux, have respectively named Ys their 83rd and 15th greatest album of the 2000s.[34][35] About placed Ys at number one inside their greatest album of the decade list.[36] In 2010, Tiny Mix Tapes named the album the 18th greatest of the 2000s and Cokemachineglow.com the 81st.[37][38] Rhapsody named it the 46th best album of the 00s.[39]

Accolades and awards[edit]

End of Decade[edit]

Other[edit]

  • #13 – Clash Magazine's 50 Greatest Albums of Our Lifetime[32]
  • #92 – Musikexpress's The 100 Best Albums 1969–2009[33]
  • No Order – Hervé Bourhis's 555 Records[40]
  • Special Mention – The Guardian '​s 1000 Albums to Hear Before You Die[31]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Joanna Newsom.

No. Title Length
1. "Emily"   12:07
2. "Monkey & Bear"   9:29
3. "Sawdust & Diamonds"   9:54
4. "Only Skin"   16:53
5. "Cosmia"   7:15

Personnel[edit]

Performance[edit]

Orchestra[edit]

Production[edit]

Charts[edit]

Album[edit]

Chart (2006) Peak
position
The Billboard 200 (U.S.) 134
U.S. Billboard Top Heatseekers 1
U.S. Billboard Independent Albums 5
U.S. Billboard Top Digital Albums 10
U.S. Billboard Tastemakers 8
U.S. ''Billboard'' Comprehensive Albums 165
UK Albums Chart 41[60]
Irish Album Chart 50
Norwegian Album Chart 29
French Album Chart 168

References[edit]

  1. ^ brooklynvegan (2006-08-16). "Joanna Newsom's 2nd album details". Retrieved 2008-01-12. 
  2. ^ Mark Guarino (December 2006). "Joanna Newsom:Strings Attached". Retrieved 2008-01-12. 
  3. ^ "Arthur Magazine Feature on Joanna Newsom". Arthurmag.com. 2011-09-08. Retrieved 2011-11-24. 
  4. ^ Matthew Solarski (2007-10-22). "Joanna Newsom with Orchestra". Retrieved 2008-01-12. 
  5. ^ "Ys reviews at Metacritic.com". Metacritic. Retrieved February 24, 2010. 
  6. ^ Phares, Heather (2006-11-14). "((( Ys > Overview )))". allmusic. Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  7. ^ Brainlove, John (2006-12-21). "Joanna Newsom – Ys / Releases / Releases // Drowned In Sound". Drownedinsound.com. Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
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  9. ^ "Joanna Newsom – Album review: Joanna Newsom – 'Ys' (Drag City) – Album Reviews". Nme.Com. 2006-11-06. Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
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  30. ^ a b "The 100 best pop albums of the Noughties". The Times (London). 2009-11-21. 
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External links[edit]