Joanna Newsom at the Palace of Arts

2011.01.25. 18:34


The music of 28-year-old Californian Joanna Newsom defies easy categorisation, and it is said that she herself dislikes being identified with any particular style.

If pushed, however, the loosely defined labels of avant-garde, folk and indie rock might spring to mind. Newsom's style is certainly striking and individual, and tends to provoke few neutral responses for precisely this reason. Her performances are sometimes unsettling, sometimes soothing, her voice ranging from a silky smooth tone to a cry of anguish. Newsom fell in love with the harp at the age of four, but as no one was willing to teach her the instrument at such a young age she made an initial detour onto the piano. Eventually taking up the harp from the age of seven, it now features as her main instrument alongside the piano.

Besides performing, Newsom writes her own music and songs, which sometimes stretch to as long as 32 minutes; but with a presence that all describe as captivating, the audience is unlikely to become bored for one moment. Conjuring an entirely unique sound from her instrument, Newsom has the power to take an open-minded audience on a genuine musical adventure. Interestingly, she only began singing seriously when she started to perform her own songs, having only played harp or piano in various musical groups prior to going solo. So far Newsom has issued three albums, performing solo and with an orchestra. Her latest album, recorded in near secrecy, stretches to around two hours spread over three discs.

Joanna Newsom

29 January 8 pm - Palace of Arts (Budapest, District 11, Komor Marcell utca 1.)