It’s a strange choice for my number one. After five years, ‘Divers’ was a very safe album from Newsom that I was a bit disappointed with, and I’ve only committed two listens to. It’s still an astonishing listen, but as one of my favourite musicians of the 21st century, it covered very little new ground, especially after the sprawling (in my opinion) masterpiece that is ‘Have One On Me’. Fluttering orchestration, whimsical lyrics and of course Newsom’s iconic squeaky vocals, ensure that this is her doing what she has been doing for years, and it’s what she does best.
Maybe what left me feeling so empty, however, was that none of the songs were able to compare to the opening song ‘Anecdotes’, which, upon first listen, I knew in my gut was the best song I’d heard all year, and perhaps this decade. It’s hard to explain why, but the whole track left me with goosebumps from start to finish, I felt as though I’d heard an entire album as the song concluded, because I was left so floored by its sheer scope and sound. Even now, relistening to the song (as I do almost every day), I get shivers down my spine when hearing those first chords, and a deep emotional throttling as Newsom repeats them in falsetto. The woodwinds and strings dance around in unpredictable ways, even occasionally reversed to give them a cosmic, psychedelic sensation. A deep electronic hum sings under Newsom for the refrain, a first (as far as I’m aware) in her music, and yet collides so seamlessly, making the song feel so alien, as well as so familiar.
It’s likely others might not be so shaken up upon hearing this song as I was, but three months later it still resonates as beautifully as it did the first time I heard it. No song has made me feel as though life begins at the moment the song ends as this one – that’s an incredible feeling, and that’s why it’s my Jam of 2015.
Thanks so much to everyone who’s followed me over the last months and supported me sharing these songs. I hope whoever has joined me in this list has found something they enjoy. It’s been a pleasure writing and understanding just what it is that I love about each of these tracks, perhaps more so this year than any other. 2015 has truly been an earth-shaking year for music, and 2016 has a great deal to look up to. The blog will be returning shortly with comics, design thoughts and my own work after this little yearly digression.