AOTY 2019

The Milk-Eyed Mender

Joanna Newsom - The Milk-Eyed Mender
Critic Score
Based on 7 reviews
2004 Ratings: #4 / 363
User Score
Based on 195 ratings
2004 Ratings: #10
March 23, 2004 / Release Date
LP / Format
Drag City / Label
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From the ambling, country-style folk tale of Sadie, to the hearty, galloping piano sing-along of Inflammatory Writ, The Milk-Eyed Mender is like a travelling scrapbook of Americana, varying wildly in pace and tone, but with not a single bad song among them.

Tiny Mix Tapes
There isn't a poorly written song to be found, both musically and lyrically. Moving effortlessly from soft, gorgeous balladry (the stunning album closer "Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie") to lively, bubbly tunes (the strident and animated "Inflammatory Writ"), Newsom's ability to give life to her mesmerizing, heartfelt narratives never falters.
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'Bridges and Balloons' may just be my favorite opener ever. Good God she's just so spry!

While Joanna is obviously still evolving and finding her voice that's part of the beauty with this album. There's a certain energy to debut albums in general. Excitement almost. My pops always says: "you have your whole life to write your debut album." And it shows here. Joanna must have been counting the days to record this album because you can really feel it in her voice. It pierces your soul ... read more
I've been holding back on exploring into the discograpy of Joanna Newsom for some unknown reason over the last couple years I have been aware of her music. Given that we have never been formally introduced, I decided it was about time.

And what a time it was. The Milk-Eyed Mender is a phenomenal debut riddled in whimsical, personal and delicate folk music that feels from an earlier time; certainly not born out of the mid 2000s. Newsom has perhaps one of the most distinctive and genuine voice ... read more
I recently lost my grandfather, and the amount that this album has helped with processing cannot be overstated. What is so magical about Joanna Newsom is her storytelling capabilities. The rhythmic harp and verbose lyrics do not compete for attention; they function together to present a narrative that could be told in no other way. Her words seem to respond to the instruments and vice versa, which creates a playful, almost improvisational vibe. Each song is a short story, one that sounds as ... read more
The debut album of one of the most enigmatic artists of today and without a single hint of doubt one of my favorite musicians of all time—And man, is it magnificent.

Many may criticize this album for Joanna’s vocals being fairly undeveloped in comparison to her later releases, and although that is a respectable opinion, I think that this album has a very “childlike” nature because of it, a unique voice that demonstrates its early potential to bloom and become more in ... read more
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Year End Lists


Track List

  1. Bridges and Balloons
  2. Sprout and the Bean
  3. The Book of Right-On
  4. Sadie
  5. Inflammatory Writ
  6. This Side of the Blue
  7. "En Gallop"
  8. Cassiopeia
  9. Peach, Plum, Pear
  10. Swansea
  11. Three Little Babes
  12. Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie
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