JONI MITCHELL Shine (Hear Music) (3.5 stars out of 4)
Fancy some Armageddon with your grande latte?
Having denounced the music industry as a cesspool and her retirement from its slavery a decade ago, the irony that Canadian songwriter Joni Mitchell's re-entry effort is courtesy of a distribution deal with Starbucks must amuse her.
Still, it's hard to come to terms with the notion that such a relentless outpouring of detached loathing should be made available exclusively by a company that promotes life's easy pleasures.
Or maybe it is. Deceptively smooth in composition and execution, Shine doesn't sound like panic, resignation, condemnation or farewell. It sounds like Joni Mitchell in full possession of all her artistic gifts her distinctive voice a little richer and smokier, perhaps and as divinely clever as she ever was. Buried beneath the voluptuous surface, however, are lyrics so savage, so devoid of compassion, hope and goodwill, that they'll curdle your coffee froth and ruin your day ... maybe your evening as well.
That's Mitchell's intention, of course. Having signalled the green alarm back in the 1970s with "Big Yellow Taxi" it's given a neat, up-tempo revival here, but its playfulness has been replaced by an icy chill she is venting her I-told-you-so spleen with 10 songs that lay the blame for the ruin of the planet squarely at the feet of the human race. The message is unequivocal, undiluted, hopeless and brutal: It's all over.
Bummer. Another coffee?
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