"Only Skin" is but one track off of Joanna Newsom
's truly epic album Ys
, but this single song is a real doozy. At 16 minutes+ in length, it's probably one of the longer pop songs around, if it could even really be referred to as "pop." It's really much more complicated and layered than the vast majority of what passes for pop.
Anyway, it's one long, fairy-tale like poetic parable for the perennial confusion of romantic relationships, the vast pleasures and joy, pain and strife, storms and sunshine, abundan
ce and lack, with rich descriptions and allusions including references to antiquated and fantastical forms such as "fire breathers," a "toothless hound dog," a weeping sea gull and a "hairless and blind cavalry," among many others.
It feels like there are several distinct musical movements through the length of the song, the music deftly winding and dancing around multiple emotions, much like the "twisting and braiding" river, the "lazy cinder smoking" and the "estuaries of wax-white" that wend through its lyrics.
This song is incomperable, a stunner.
If you haven't heard it or all of Ys
yet, now is the time, when the leaves are falling, the air is full of woodsmoke and the change of seasons makes the earth and its brethren, described so beautifully here, feel that much closer.
And P.S.: Please check out two special interviews
with Joanna's touring drummer, Neal Morgan
, about his new record To the Breathing World.
To get in the mood, check out his masterful work on the EP Joanna Newsom and the Ys Street Band