Startling label debut for Bay Area singer/harpist

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Joanna Newsom – The Milk-Eyed Mender

Love-or-hate time. So freshly individual is the 22-year-old Newsom, it’s like decoding a Picasso or retracing Escher’s op-art illusions. A harpist at eight, she draws from a love of African rhythm and traditional Appalachia to create an abrasive/delicate intersection of both, Add in Wurlitzer electric piano, harpsichord and the kind of wonderfully lopsided trill patented by Victoria Williams and you have something special indeed (fans include Will Oldham and Cat Power). Lyrically, it’s just as curious: palaces, mealworms, wild boars, clams and Texans drying jerky. Fantastic.