It has been five years since Joanna Newsom released her monumental triple album, Have One On Me, and we now have a taste of what is to come next. “Sapokanikan” is the first single from her upcoming double LP, Divers, and it is delightful. The sonic landscape is characteristically similar to Have One On Me, with Joanna playing piano in lieu of harp and Neal Morgan still blowing minds behind the drum kit, but the aesthetic is more well rounded thanks to the addition of a horn section and celeste (glockenspiel sounding miniature piano). The track is extremely dense and the lyrics deal with, among other things, the history of power exchanges in New York City. She references the transfer of power from Native American ruler King Tamanend to the Dutch settlers, on to their descendants, all the way to the 18th/19th century Tammany Hall political machine. She frames this theme from the first lyric: “The cause is Ozymandian/ The map of Sapokanikan,” referencing Percy Shelley’s iconic poem about the impermanence of sovereignty and power.
Check out the Paul Thomas Anderson directed video for “Sapokanikan” below