Online Health Education Solutions

Songs from a mailbox

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Joanna Newsom’s new three-disc album has a persistent epistolary quality, as if most of these songs began as allusive, intimate letters written from a somewhat remote location. After a while, you can’t help visualizing the spot: a rural house, with a garden, near a river, with jackrabbits springing by and kingfishers on the hunt. “When you come see me in California, you cross the border of my heart,” she sings, in a way that assumes the heart’s border to be just as tangible as the state line.

As letters will do, these songs often ramble, sometimes even melodically, as if Newsom were thinking aloud while pacing the property, checking the garden but also peeking in at the big spider that sometimes won’t let her leave her room. Or maybe she’s singing about last night’s dream, but in such a way as to affirm that all the things she experienced there can be touched and felt in her waking life.

The heart is a particularly vivid item in these songs, to be opened and examined frequently, whether as treasure chest or tomb. She sings about it the way ancient balladeers might, with tunes that often sound antique, while her harp and her bright, childlike voice imply that this fair lady’s unicorn may arrive soon. But she also has a more rugged side, which comes out when the gentle motion that launches many of these tunes (the ballad-like Baby Birch, for instance) toughens up with drums and distorted guitar, and starts to swing. Her vocal tone can harden suddenly and maybe not intentionally, and after two albums she still hits some high notes with a pronounced click.

No Provenance begins like an elfin love-song, but then a habanera rhythm creeps in, and the feeling of that delayed second beat is too knowing and carnal for fairy trysts. That beat is one of Newsom’s favourites: She uses it again and again, along with the trick of starting a song small and blowing it up later (with help from arranger Ryan Francesconi).

“Mercy me,” she sings at the start of Occident, and her voice somehow justifies the antiquated speech. Unlike some current rootsy musicians who want us to believe they’re hopping freights, Newsom doesn’t require us to teleport to the thirties. Her old-time sounds and language seem to be focused on present situations. It’s a risky thing to attempt, and she often succeeds. But her songwriting strategies aren’t really varied enough to keep this project lively for two full hours.

Rahman bags two Grammys for Slumdog Millionaire

Monday, February 1, 2010

Indian music maestro A R Rahman struck gold once again, bagging two trophies at the 52nd Grammy Awards in Los Angeles for his music in Slumdog Millionaire .
The composer, who has already won a Golden Globe and two Academy awards, registered wins in both the categories he was nominated for.
He was the earliest winner in the Best Compilation Soundtrack for a motion picture category and picked up another trophy for his song Jai Ho in the Best Motion Picture song category moments later.
"This is insane, God great again," the 44-year-old composer said while accepting the golden gramophones.
Rahman beat Steve Jordan for Cadillac Records, Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds ,the producers of Twilight and True Blood to bag the award in the best compilation soundtrack for a motion picture category.
In the Best Song category, Rahman's rivals included Bruce Springsteen for his song The Wrestler, from the Oscar-nominated movie of the same name.
Rahman's Grammy win was similar to his triumph at the Oscars last year where he picked up the Best Original Score statuette before winning the Oscar for Jai Ho, which has become an international anthem.
This is Rahman's first Grammy.
In the picture: Rahman poses with singers Tanvi Shah and Vijay Prakash at the 52nd annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Photograph: Mario Anzuoni/ Reuters
Video: Rahman thanks his audience
Want to listen to the songs? Click here to listen to Jai Ho and O Saya.