Joni Mitchell's latest album 'Shine' has thankfully fallen into my hands and I've been taking my time, savoring her songs for this review. 'Shine' is an emotional album. The lyrics and the messages within may be harsh for the optimistic listener, but as a Joni Mitchell fan, it's fortunate to be able to join her on her lyrical and instrumental journey in the year 2007.
'Shine' opens with "One Week Last Summer", a gorgeous instrumental track that includes a wonderfully mixed piano, sax solo and full harmonies sure to make mouths water. I wondered why she may have chosen to open the album with an instrumental song, but after digging around found the explanation on her website.
On "This Place", the sweet cries of a pedal steel guitar, one of my favorite instruments, is a welcome addition to Joni Mitchell's eclectic use of instrumentation. It intertwines with the sadness of the lyrics, about the beauty and the destruction of "this land".
I can see how difficult it would be for Joni Mitchell not to write about what's going on around her in today's world. "If I Had A Heart" is a song that songwriters are made for. Mitchell sings about the state of the planet with a message of despair.
One thing I really love about Joni Mitchell's singing is not only her recognizable voice, but it's her phrasing within a song. She has one of the most percussive voices out there and "Hana" is a perfect example of trademark Joni along with calypso beats and harmonies.
Her voice in "Bad Dreams Are Good" is reminiscent of Billie Holiday and throughout the album I had thoughts of Joan Armatrading. It's great to hear the new version of "Big Yellow Taxi" which, once again, features her brilliant vocal phrasing along with beautiful harmonies, a cool rhythmic guitar and sparse, staccato instruments.
'Shine' is a daring and honest piece of art produced and shared by Joni Mitchell. Whether the lyrics are read alone or along with the album, her talent shines through as a true poet, singer, musician and storyteller.
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