Friday, March 12, 2010

The Album Is Dead (Long Live the Album)

This week I've spent a bit of time listening to Joanna Newsom's new 3-CD epic recording, Have One On Me. It's the kind of thing I'm naturally inclined towards. I love concept albums. Couldn't believe anyone could find a market for a 3-CD collection (over two hours) of female vocals with harp and other varied instrumentation. Daring and fun. Pretty wild.

I keep wondering how much longer the album as an art form will last... I read recently that on-line downloads of individual songs far exceeded sales of albums this last year, and the trend keeps increasing.

Nevertheless, I'm committed to the album. An album is kind of like a novel. Although I like short stories, typically I prefer to be immersed in a novel rather than breeze my way through a short story. Similarly, I love the immersiveness of an album, and I always especially love albums that take advantage of the album as a whole in what they record. Examples include The Decemberists and Gillian Welch.

Newsom takes this to a whole new level, however, and it works. My first listen was in the office. It accompanied a rainy day and writing quite well. The second listen was with the kids, and they also quite liked it. My next listen will be with headphones, to hear some more of the texture. I really recommend it.

Other albums I've been listening to this week and enjoying include Josh Rouse's El Turista, and Neil Young's Fork in the Road.

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