I really get and am ok with some people not connecting with Joanna Newsom's vocals. They're undeniably shrill, her lyrics edge on pretension and her confidence in performance borders on hubris.
That said, I love this album and am really happy that I'm not the only one. Newsom gets compared to Bjork a lot. It's not so much sonically as it is the complete headiness in execution; a total demand that the audience learn to love the voice.
There is some serious talent: the songwriting is strong, melodies dense and smart, vocals (strange) but also musical-- the line is always pushing forward, always supporting the surroundings.
I posted about (and hosted) "Sawdust and Diamonds," a track that continues to astound. It's gorgeous.
Pitchfork put "Emily" on their list of best tracks of the year but "Only Skin" is the real album highlight. There's so much happening here, it gets so bombastic, that it's hard to describe. But it has a quiet, brilliant moment. There is no affect in her voice when we get the album's perfect lyric:
"scrape your knee/ it is only skin/ makes the sound/ of violins"