For most people, it all comes down to that voice. Like musical Vegemite, Joanna Newsom has a voice that either resonates or irritates. There's really no middle ground and this hasn't changed with Divers.
That said, Divers is so far my favourite release from Newsom. Despite the five year hiatus, all the familiar signatures are here: the bright harp, the narrative lyrics and the reverence for old folk music. What's new is that this feels like her most modern record yet.
The instruments may be the same, but it's the way they're employed that feels different. From the labyrinthian melody of ‘Sapokanikan’ to the electric bombast of ‘Leaving the City’, the songs often dovetail into unexpected territory.
Divers is a surprising, lush and detailed listen and is easily one of the year’s best.