Few things are as negotiable as the showbiz retirement, whether in the form of annual "farewell tours" or, as in Joni Mitchell's case, turning one's back on Warner Brothers only to sign up with that paragon of small-scale, localised individualism, Starbucks. It's not, alas, a particularly rewarding alliance, Shine offering a lacklustre retread of familiar issues in Mitchell's trademark coffee-table folk-jazz settings, awash with that ghastly saxophone that's closer to Kenny G than Charlie Parker. Sadder still, there's little insight to her observations, which range from bland statements of the obvious ("we have poisoned everything", "holy war, genocide, suicide, hate and cruelty - how can this be holy?") to the kind of glib sloganeering ("men love war - that's what history's for") that would once have been beneath her. And when her ire is equally apportioned, as in "Shine" itself, to warmongers and bad drivers alike, one wonders whether it's not simply a matter of innate pessimism rather than political engagement. Besides which, I don't need lectures on ecology from members of an industry whose carbon bootprint has done more damage than I could ever hope to equal.
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