I’ve never really understood the term “classically trained.” For Keanu Reeves, I guess it means he took some classes on Shakespeare. For Ian McKellen, it means he can play wizards with an authoritative British accent. However, for Joanna Newsom, it means she’s an officially licensed badass at playing all sorts of instruments. Newsom comes from a strong lineage of music, and she mastered piano, harp, and singing in folk camps as a young child.
Since her early days as a musician, Newsom has concentrated on honing her harp skills, picking up influences from Celtic, African, and Venezuelan folk alike. She’s also an accomplished songwriter and lyricist, having studied creative writing and composing since high school. All of this is just proverbial icing on a musical cake. Newsom’s nontraditional sound is what really sets her apart from other lo-fi instrumentalists and singer-songwriters.
For how “trained” she is, Newsom’s voice is refreshingly unrefined. At once ethereal and rootsy, her music lacks comparison with most contemporaries in the recent wave of indie folk musicians. Newsom sings over waterfalls of harp notes, transporting her audience to a lush scene with her detailed lyrics. “Peach, Plum, Pear” juxtaposes a childlike sound with its more serious themes of lost love. “Emily” builds to even greater heights of emotion by throwing a choir of strings into the poly-rhythmic mix.
Understandably, an artist with such a rare sound has a pretty devoted following. Last year, Newsom’s show at the Paramount sold out quickly. Normally this would be a problem for you, except…(wait for it)…we’re offering a couple pairs of free tickets for fans of Do512! If you’re a regular, you know you just have to click “I like it” on the event page for you chance to nab those tickets to a night of fantastic folk.