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Perhaps she is also protecting herself — back in Nevada City, a few of her more unhinged fans would occasionally show up uninvited at her house, which understandably upset her.Now Newsom is extra-careful when it comes to guarding details about her marriage or where she currently resides in Los Angeles.Despite a seemingly casual writing process, Newsom ended up making “sort of a concept record,” she says.Newsom declines to elaborate, preferring not to “spoil” for listeners.
“I was just sort of poking around to see if anybody liked [the video] and I had to stop reading immediately,” she says, no longer laughing.
“It’s like people are so attached to that narrative about me that they’re expending valuable energy that they could be putting into so much other stuff — like listening to this record, or any record.” I’ve just asked Newsom about the media coverage of her 2004 debut, , a beguiling collection of folk songs that established Newsom’s myriad idiosyncrasies: her singular voice, an untrained, warbly soprano that manages to sound guileless and ancient simultaneously; her Lyon & Healy orchestral harp, which Newsom plucks with a degree of proficiency that the later likened to Eddie Van Halen; her songwriting, drawn from a wide spectrum of styles deriving from West Africa, the Appalachian mountains, passed-down Celtic balladry, ’70s-era Laurel Canyon, and scores of other far-flung traditions; and her lyrics, a dense tapestry of historical references, obscure nouns, confessional asides, and more jokes than she gets credit for.
Newsom was only 22 when came out — she started recording songs while attending Mills College in Oakland, where she studied musical composition.
Shortly after the “Sapokanikan” video appeared online, fans rushed to interpret the song’s tangled narrative, which references the Native American village that predates Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, where Newsom lived during part of , as both an inspiration and a metaphor for how history is “layered on top of history, [and] on top of history,” resulting in a “sort of revisionist thing as told by the people who won.” The songs percolated in Newsom’s brain long before she began to formally write, arrange, and record them.
This process commenced not long after the tour cycle for Newsom’s previous LP, the sprawling triple-record set , Newsom strikes seemingly contradictory poses.
“It’s pretty sexist.” ♦♦♦ A native of Nevada City, a hippie enclave in Northern California that’s a haven for artists, New Age mystics, and anyone else eager to escape the grid, Newsom has a natural West Coast sunniness that doesn’t dim even when she’s annoyed.