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The Milk-Eyed Mender

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The Milk-Eyed Mender
Studio album by
ReleasedMarch 23, 2004
LabelDrag City
ProducerNoah Georgeson
Joanna Newsom chronology
The Milk-Eyed Mender
Singles from The Milk-Eyed Mender
  1. "Sprout and the Bean"
    Released: November 2, 2004

The Milk-Eyed Mender is the debut studio album by American singer-songwriter Joanna Newsom, released on March 23, 2004, by Drag City.


Newsom wrote all the songs on the album except for "Three Little Babes", a traditional Appalachian song by Texas Gladden. According to the liner notes, Newsom plays "a Lyon & Healy style 15 harp, a wurlitzer electric piano, a harpsichord, and piano."

A bandmate in San Francisco band The Pleased, Noah Georgeson, produced and recorded the album, as well as contributing guitar to two tracks and backing vocals to one. Cover art embroidery is by Emily Prince and photographs are by Alissa Anderson. Newsom thanks former touring partners Will Oldham, Devendra Banhart, and Vetiver, along with many others.

The song "Swansea" was covered by the band Bombay Bicycle Club and featured on their sophomore album Flaws in 2010. The song "The Book of Right-On" was both sampled from and reprised by Newsom on The Roots' 2010 release How I Got Over, the refrain forming the backbone of 'Right On', the album's ninth track, and covered by bluegrass musician Sarah Jarosz on her 2013's album Build Me Up from Bones.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
The Independent[8]
The Irish Times[2]
The New Zealand Herald[1]
Stylus MagazineC[10]
Tiny Mix Tapes4.5/5[5]
The Village VoiceA−[12]

The Milk-Eyed Mender received widespread critical acclaim from contemporary music critics, earning Newsom several accolades that same year and by the end of the decade.

MacKenzie Wilson of AllMusic gave the album a favorable review, stating, "Newsom's childlike voice brings an unstudied grace to an innocent setting of songs, and such quirkiness is hard to find among most guitar-driven indie acts. Delicate harp arrangements are nicely sprinkled among specks of pianos, organs, and a harpsichord, only adding to the fascination that is Milk-Eyed Mender. Newsom exists in several musical spheres, one being a member of The Pleased, while not forgetting how wonderful it is to live in a warm place that leaves you bright-eyed and hopeful for only what is good in life."[7]

The Sunday Times ranked it at #28 on its best albums of the decade list, and in 2009, Pitchfork named The Milk-Eyed Mender the 47th greatest album of the 2000s.[13] The website also named "Peach, Plum, Pear" the 197th Greatest Song of the 2000s (decade) and "Sprout & The Bean" the 229th.[14][15] Slant Magazine named the album the 83rd best album of its decade.[16] The Milk-Eyed Mender was also ranked number 76 inside Tiny Mix Tapes's greatest records of the 2000s (decade) list.[17]

According to The New York Times, The Milk-Eyed Mender has sold more than 200,000 copies in the U.S., despite not charting.[18]


End of year

End of decade


Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Joanna Newsom, except where noted

1."Bridges and Balloons"3:42
2."Sprout and the Bean"4:32
3."The Book of Right-On"4:29
5."Inflammatory Writ"2:50
6."This Side of the Blue"5:21
7.""En Gallop""5:07
9."Peach, Plum, Pear"3:34
11."Three Little Babes" (traditional)3:42
12."Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie"4:21
Total length:52:05


  • Joanna Newsom – vocals, harp, harpsichord, acoustic piano, wurlitzer electric piano
  • Noah Georgeson – producer
  • Emily Prince – artwork
  • Alissa Anderson – photography


  1. ^ a b Barry, Rebecca (October 7, 2005). "Joanna Newsom: The Milk-Eyed Mender". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d Carroll, Jim (December 17, 2004). "Joanna Newsom: The Milk-Eyed Mender (Drag City)". The Irish Times. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  3. ^ "Joanna Newsom: The Milk-Eyed Mender | No Ripcord". noripcord.com. Retrieved 2020-10-16.
  4. ^ a b Stosuy, Brandon (March 17, 2004). "Joanna Newsom: The Milk-Eyed Mender". Pitchfork. Retrieved April 29, 2013.
  5. ^ a b NicoleMC99. "Joanna Newsom – The Milk-Eyed Mender". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved February 8, 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ "What Is Freak Folk Music? | liveabout.com". liveabout.com. Retrieved 2020-10-24.
  7. ^ a b Wilson, MacKenzie. "The Milk-Eyed Mender – Joanna Newsom". AllMusic. Retrieved April 29, 2013.
  8. ^ Gill, Andy (May 21, 2004). "Joanna Newsom: The Milk-Eyed Mender (Drag City)". The Independent.
  9. ^ "Joanna Newsom: The Milk-Eyed Mender". Mojo: 110. Over and above her gorgeous, spare arrangements for harp, piano and harpsichord, it's Joanna Newsom's voice that really steals the show... This is a weird, dark record.
  10. ^ Reid, Scott (May 5, 2004). "Joanna Newsom – The Milk-Eyed Mender – Review". Stylus Magazine. Archived from the original on January 27, 2016. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
  11. ^ "Joanna Newsom – The Milk-Eyed Mender". Uncut (85). June 2004. Archived from the original on December 1, 2006. Retrieved February 8, 2016.
  12. ^ Christgau, Robert (February 8, 2005). "Consumer Guide: Harmonies and Abysses". The Village Voice. Retrieved February 8, 2016.
  13. ^ "Staff Lists: The Top 200 Albums of the 2000s: 50-21". Pitchfork. 2009-10-01. Archived from the original on 2013-08-22. Retrieved 2010-02-25.
  14. ^ "Staff Lists: The Top 500 Tracks of the 2000s: 200-101". Pitchfork. 2009-08-18. Retrieved 2010-02-25.
  15. ^ "Staff Lists: The Top 500 Tracks of the 2000s: 500-201". Pitchfork. 2009-08-17. Archived from the original on 2010-06-22. Retrieved 2010-02-25.
  16. ^ "Best of the Aughts: Albums | Music". Slant Magazine. February 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-25.
  17. ^ "Favorite 100 Albums of 2000-2009: 80-61 | Staff Feature". Tiny Mix Tapes. 2009-01-20. Retrieved 2010-02-25.
  18. ^ Rosen, Jody (2010-03-07). "Joanna Newsom, the Changeling". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-25.
  19. ^ "End of the Year: 2004". Retrieved 2009-01-07.
  20. ^ "Best Albums of 2004". 8 December 2004. Retrieved 2009-01-07.
  21. ^ "Top 50 Albums of 2004". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2009-01-07.
  22. ^ "The Top 40 Albums of 2004". Stylus Magazine. Archived from the original on 2008-02-23. Retrieved 2009-01-07.
  23. ^ "The 2004 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll". The Village Voice. Retrieved 2009-01-07.
  24. ^ a b "Music: Milk-Eyed Mender (CD) by Joanna Newsom (Artist)". Tower.com. 2004-03-23. Archived from the original on 2012-09-28. Retrieved 2013-04-29.
  25. ^ "Staff Lists: The Top 200 Albums of the 2000s: 50-21 | Features". Pitchfork. 2009-10-01. Archived from the original on 2013-08-22. Retrieved 2013-04-29.
  26. ^ "Best of the Aughts: Albums | Feature". Slant Magazine. February 2010. Retrieved 2013-04-29.
  27. ^ · in Best Of, Feature (2010-01-18). "The Best Albums of the '00s : Treble: Music news, reviews, interviews and more". Treblezine.com. Archived from the original on 2012-02-23. Retrieved 2013-04-29.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  28. ^ "Top 100 Albums of 2000-04". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on 2009-01-13. Retrieved 2009-01-07.
  29. ^ "100 Best Indie Rock Albums of All Time". amazon.com. Retrieved 24 November 2014.

External links[edit]