Reviews Of Major Label Releases
The most noteworthy big-name release this season is Joni Mitchell's Night Ride Home (Geffen)
, which finds her having pared down her songs substantially and keeping a steady focus on her understated acoustic guitar weavings. The easygoing, sometimes lengthy tunes all add up to what is easily Mitchell's strongest effort in years. Her subject matter is wide ranging but never tranquil, from "Cherokee Louise," in which a sexually abused girl seeks temporary asylum beneath a Broadway bridge, to "Passion Play (When All the Slaves Are Free)," a doleful environmental lament. The songs are written from the standpoint of a more mature perspective: a sense of wistful resignation colors "Nothing Can Be Done" ("Must I surrender with grace the things I loved when I was younger"), while "The Only Joy In Town" finds Mitchell gazing at a beautiful man on a crowded sidewalk, reflecting on lost yesterdays ("In my youth I would have followed him all through this terra-cotta town"). Both musically and lyrically, Mitchell creates music adult listeners can commiserate with.