Joanna Newsom brings home the harp

The Foothills are alive with thesound of music.

The Foothills are alive with thesound of music.

Some people hear the recorded voice of Joanna Newsom and think that she sounds weird, tinny or trippy. But anyone who’s watched the silky haired maiden pluck the strings of a harp taller than she is and heard her live voice, an instrument in its own right, will tell you differently. She’s perfect.

In person, her voice is fluid, emotional and radically unique. For all these reasons, SN&R felt a neighborly pride when the Nevada City gal returned home last week to play a sold-out Music in the Mountains concert.

“This is a special show for me,” said Newsom. “A lot of people I love are here. Lots and lots of them.”

From the stage of an old farmhouse auditorium at the Nevada County Fairgrounds, Newsom treated fans—a mix of young, woodsy hipsters, and older family, friends, and Music in the Mountains patrons—to a straight recital of her 2006 album, Ys. The Solisti Glitterati Chamber Orchestra performed Van Dyke Parks’ famous arrangements and lent the epic backdrop that Newsom’s initial Ys tour in 2006 deserved but lacked.

The second act mixed whimsical tracks from The Milk-Eyed Mender with Newsom’s new songs. Her future sounds like a mix of Scottish folk influences, technical mandolin accompaniment, and a rustic, harvest vibe.

Near the concert’s end, when no one was left on stage but the petite harpist, a man in the audience shouted, “Welcome home!”

“Thank you,” said Newsom, whose personal invitation to tour with neo-folk darling Will Oldham (a.k.a. Bonnie “Prince” Billy) years ago launched her into international acclaim.

“It’s good to be home.”