JONI – “Learned Ways” (via Gabba.Net)

A just-the-facts description: this is U2’s “New Year’s Day” using nothing but early-80s synths and vox treatments, and set to a dry but regular beat. The FX are laid on so thickly that only the melody line identifies the song – the vocals and sounds rub and blur and soak into one another. So much so that you feel surrounded by a bathful of sound-sponges, and warmed and lulled and slightly saddened – it’s a world away from U2’s expansive urgencies and I love it. But of course a trace of Bono remains – a swab of the man’s absurd confidence and his band’s clanging brashness. Applied in these minute doses it vaccinates “Yearned Ways” against the potential foolishness of its own nostalgic sonics, and the listener can approach without risk.