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Shine

4.1 out of 5 stars 151 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 25, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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.

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Shine 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
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 25, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Hear Music
  • ASIN: B000UR366S
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (151 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,278 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

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Joni Mitchell's first album of new songs in nine years finds her mourning the sad state of the planet, but with a newfound acceptance that all things have their place in the universe ("bad dreams are good in the great plan," as she puts it here, quoting her young grandson) -- including her own anger and disappointment. Despite the numerous Robinson Jeffers-like call-outs of money/corruption/greed/rage/war and the incivility of humankind, the album does not end up being disheartening, but the opposite. Her voice -- husky with age and chain-smoked American Spirits -- shines with a warrior's strength and defiance even in ragged armor, like Billie Holiday's late recordings. And most wonderfully, Joni is still pushing her music into vital new territory, foregoing the synthesizer-guitar textures of "Taming the Tiger" for piano, horns, percussion, and other warmly organic voices.

She boldly opens the album with an instrumental, which struck me as an ungenerous move on first hearing, but in the context of the rest of the album makes perfect sense on Joni's terms, which are the only terms on which she makes records, bless her. (Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, and Neil Young -- her true peers -- also specialized in weirding out listeners who expected more-of-the-same with each new record.) Every song gets a distinctive orchestration of its own, from the percolating "Hana" -- a portrait of an old movie heroine, an Irish bodhisattva disguised as a traveling maid, who had "a special knack for getting people back on the right track" -- to a playful reprise of "Big Yellow Taxi" rescored like French circus music.
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(4 & 1/2 stars) Joni Mitchell's latest CD is a most welcome return, and worth the wait. This was obviously a very personal work, as she not only wrote and sang the tunes, she also played the majority of the instruments and co-produced! (Two notable exceptions to the one-woman show are Bob Sheppard's adept sax lines and some sweet pedal steel by Greg Leisz.) The songs are classic Joni, sometimes swinging, other times brilliantly introspective, always thought-provoking. Some will almost certainly be added to my list of Joni Mitchell favorites, particularly the marvelous "Bad Dreams." Lyrically, her poetic insights are most timely, with comments on our destruction of the planet, the blindness of elected officials, the climate of hatred and tension which pervades, but also some much more intimate observations. To echo what others have said, as striking as this album has been the first couple of times through, I think it's something I will grow to appreciate even more in the coming years.
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Format: Audio CD
Joni Mitchell has been my favorite singer since I was 18 years old, but I have to admit that I'm rarely immediately blown away by her new releases. The last time was the amazing "Turbulent Indigo". After such a long wait for new material, I was in equal parts excited to finally hear it and nervous that I wouldn't like it. I needn't have worried.

"Shine" is a wonderful CD!

Having listened to it four times already, I can honestly say that I love it. Starting out with the wonderful instrumental "One Week Last Summer", "Shine" remains lovely and poignant throughout. Some might be quick on the draw to dismiss it as just more of Joni whining about the world's woes as she sees them, but if you take the time to listen to the lyrics (and read along), you'll find that she is dead on. Something very different from her previous social commentary is the fact that, while Joni does decry the world's injustices, the overall tone is empowering... we all have the ability to change the course of fate. The song "Shine" really sums up the whole idea (or at least as I interpret it)... that whether what comes at you is good or bad, it's up to you to deal with life in a positive way. This is probably the most optimistic set Joni has ever done.

To my mind, there is not a false word or false note on here. Lyrically, I would say that Joni is as strong as ever, and musically, the sound is completely fresh, very atmospheric, and extremely well played and produced. As for my fear that Joni's voice would be weak and whispery, I actually think she sounds better than she did on "Taming the Tiger".

Each of the tracks on "Shine" stands on its own, but played in sequence they make for a really great set. One admission, and I'm probably on my own here...
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Format: Audio CD
What a great tribute to the ideals we all held so fast to during the 60's! Joni is alive and well...rasphy and sultry she still gets her message across. I enjoyed her new CD "Shine" so much I gave it to all my friends whom I love for Christmas! Pour a glass of wine, push "play" and sit back and enjoy every single delightful poem on this venture. The old girl still has a lot to say!To say it is easy listening would be rude, but easy it is ! Jazzy and earthy, the message of conservation and solutions comes thru loud and clear. And I loved it! So will you !
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