Joni Mitchell is generally considered to be the single most important female singer-songwriter of the 20th Century. Her new CD features 10 great new songs that resonate on the level of some of her all-time classic work, with much of the material inspired by Joni's passion to save the environment. Her lyrics on the subject are truly inspiring.
may ultimately register as a "fans only" milestone, but it proves that Joni Mitchell retains many of the storied calling cards of her best albums. The searing lyricism of 1971's Blue
and the penchant for self-redefinition hailed by 1974's Court and Spark
make cameos here, but sadly, lesser efforts' drawbacks abound. True, "Big Yellow Taxi" reprises the environmental dystopia Mitchell first poeticized on 1970's Ladies of the Canyon
, but the occasion only prompts new pedantic effrontery ("This Place," "If I Had a Heart"). In this regard, Shine
's especially cloying title track marks the worst offender. Blissfully, though, "Hana" boasts a driving rhythm section and blurting squirts of electric guitar and saxophone in support of a compelling character sketch, and "If"--based on Rudyard Kipling's poem of the same name--paints a lyrical message of affirmation in bold strokes. Mitchell's songwriting shines brightest at such singularly poignant moments where specificity of images meets the vagaries of the instrumental arrangements, and, in the end, these and other highlights ("Bad Dreams," "Night of the Iguana") definitively carry the torch. --Jason Kirk