Why, is that an anthropomorphic chew toy communicating from an otherworldly plane? Oh my b, that is just Joanna Newsom’s new track, “Sapokanikan”. It’s been so long since we’ve heard from the talented harpist and songwriter that I had forgotten how jarring her vocals can sound upon first listen.
Since appearing in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice alongside Joaquin Phoenix, Newsom has wrapped recording her new album Divers—her first since 2010’s Have One On Me—and enlisted Anderson himself to direct the video for the first single.
With her theatrical, vocal panache waltzing over a playful piano and horn arrangement, Newsom skips, carefree, through downtown Manhattan. I have always associated her poetically-minded music with something a little more rustic or pastoral, so this video is actually a really nice contrast to my own ingrained idea of the musician. The denouement of this lovely video occurs when Newsom makes a pit-stop next to an active firetruck—siren lights cast white and crimson hues across her face as her vocal tracks double and add to the fleeting urgency of the scene. And then some rando businessman walks by with a bag of groceries, and Joanna crosses the street and heads off camera to somewhere unknown. Ugh, you slay me PTA.
Joanna Newsom’s new record, Divers drops on October 23 via Drag City, and includes arrangements from Dave Longstreth, Nico Muhly, Newsom herself, and several others. Let us know how you are feeling about the new track in the comments below!