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Watch Joanna Newsom Perform "Leaving the City" on 'Late Show With Stephen Colbert'

By Ian Holubiak i.holubiak@classicalite.com on Dec 10, 2015 09:32 AM EST
67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Arrivals Actress Joanna Newsom attends the 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 20, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo : Mark Davis/Getty Images)

Joanna Newsom released her most recent album, Divers, earlier this year. In promotion of that album, Newsom took a band and her harp to The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to perform an ethereal rendition of "Leaving the City" from the album.

In a most dynamic performance, coupled with subtle instrumentation and her crooning voice, Newsom was able to bring the entire set of The Late Show to a quiet roar. The music seems to move with a certain skip, echoing what sounds like a sort of medieval counterpoint to the top line.

Nonetheless, there's an added presence to Newsom, and not just because she is singing or performing the harp with ease. Newsom seems to unintentionally conduct the performance as she plays the instrument.

Her voice also helps dictate the rhythm, which is syncopated with the drums in a unique way.

Nonetheless, the singer-songwriter told Rolling Stone that she had to design her own notational system in light of the "interlocking rhythms on 'Leaving the City.'"

She added, "Like, these crescent moons and squares and triangles. [One theme is] the question of what's available to us as part of the human experience that isn't subject to the sovereignty of time."

Newsome has kept busy with an appearance in Inherent Vice starring Joaquin Phoenix (she even voiced the trailer). Divers has already released a single, "Sapkanikan," on which Paul Thomas Anderson (also of Inherent Vice) directed the music video.

The LP was also ranked as part of Rolling Stone's 50 Best Albums of 2015 and is the singer's first disc since her 2010 triple-LP Have One on Me.

Divers was recorded by Steve Albini and Noah Georgeson, with added musical arrangements from Newsom, Nico Muhly and Dave Longstreth.

So without further ado, here is Newsom on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert below.

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TagsJoanna Newsom, Leaving the City, Late Show With Stephen Colbert

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