Joanna Newsom hushed the Late Show audience on Tuesday with a commanding performance of “Leaving the City,” a track from her recently released fourth LP, Divers. Newsom’s inimitable coo and ethereal harp took center stage, with two keyboardists and a drummer interjecting for vivid dynamic shifts.
Newsom told Rolling Stone that the complex interlocking rhythms on “Leaving the City” required her to design her own notational system – “like, these crescent moons and squares and triangles.” One of the LP’s key themes, she added, is “the question of what’s available to us as part of the human experience that isn’t subject to the sovereignty of time.”
Divers – which ranked 29 on Rolling Stone‘s 50 Best Albums of 2015 – is Newsom’s first since 2010’s triple-LP behemoth Have One on Me. It was recorded by Steve Albini and Noah Georgeson, with musical arrangements from Newsom, Nico Muhly and Dirty Projectors mastermind Dave Longstreth.
Newsom has promoted Divers with two low-key videos – for “Sapokanikan” and the title-track – directed by filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson, who recruited the harpist to appear in his latest film, Inherent Vice.