Recordings: Turbulent Indigo

by Chris Dafoe
Toronto Globe and Mail
October 29, 1994

Turbulent Indigo
Joni Mitchell
(Reprise 9 45786-2)

After releasing a string of dodgy albums through the 1980s, Mitchell returned to form (and, significantly, to her acoustic guitar from her foray into synthesizers) with 1991's Night Ride Home. Turbulent Indigo is even more sparsely orchestrated, with Mitchell backing her jazzy playing with subtle synthesizer washes and evocative accents from soprano saxophonist Wayne Shorter. The simpler musical approach is welcome, but the album's greatest strength lies in the Mitchell's songwriting. While she's always been able to capture the intimate details of private lives, she has often stumbled when she's tried to be topical. Not here. Songs such as Sex Kills, The Magdalene Laundries and Not To Blame make their cases through the gradual accumulation of details from private and public life and steer clear of the preachiness that marred some of her work in 1980s. Mitchell may not be shy when she's shouting about her own talents - she paints herself as Van Gogh on the cover of the album and echoes the comparison on the title track - but in other matters, she obviously learned the merits of a little understatement.


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