Joanna Newsom can be polarizing. Maybe that comes with the territory of being an indie-rock harp player. Some dismiss her as twee and precious, her music as flighty and pretentious, her voice as, well, odd. But there are others who embrace her with loyal devotion for the very same things.
Her last album, 2010’s “Have One on Me,” was too much for even some of her most ardent fans, literally. It clocked in at more than two hours, spread over three CDs -- often brilliant, but a lot to take in.
She’s taken in a lot herself since that album, notably marrying comic actor Andy Sandberg in 2013 and playing the role of the “Earth goddess” narrator in the movie “Inherent Vice” for director Paul Thomas Anderson, a fan and friend. It’s a long way from her Nevada City, California, origins. But rest assured: She hasn’t gone Hollywood. She’s pretty good with a cinematic-level narrative, though.
If the last one was an epic trilogy, her new album, “Divers,” is a compelling, complex novel, clocking in at a much more manageable 52 minutes. It’s still full of unexpected twists and turns, in story and in her ever-evolving, ancient-modern mix of folk and classical-derived styles.