From the album jacket to the inner sleeve to the words and music, Joni Mitchell's most recent album is clearly and convincingly just what the title suggests: blue.
A standout among female songwriters, Joni is unabashedly feminine, and unafraid to write highly autobiographical songs, as songs about her life have long been her trademark. Blue (Reprise MS 2038) is another period of Joni's life, a collection of songs of love: love of a man, love of a home, love of music.
The songs are simpler here than they were in the past, and very nice. Joni Mitchell, the woman, is caught in the classic bind, the desire for independence and the need for security. Joni Mitchell, the songwriter, explains it all very well.
She writes with the slightly old-fashioned romanticism that she found on her getaway trip to Europe earlier this year. Blue is a sketchbook of people and confusion and the blues.
There's a touch of optimism here and a happy song of love there, but a pervading mood of blue throughout. In "All I Want" she begs for romance, which is more in her mind than anywhere else. "I am on a lonely road and I am traveling/Looking for something, what can it be/Oh, I hate you some, I hate you some/I love you some/Oh, I love you when I forget about me."
She finds love, of course - several times - but loses it somehow. "He told me all romantics meet the same fate someday/cynical and drunk and boring someone in some dark cafe." And then, in the title song, "Blue, songs are like tattoos/You know I've been to sea before/Well there's so many sinking now /You've gotta keep thinking/You can make it thru the waves."
While her lyrics and music surpass her singing, Joni occasionally uses her sometimes surprising phrasing to give the feel of cresting a hill on a roller-coaster and floating to the bottom. Occasionally, too, she can also make an octave change sound a bit too abrupt.
There are only a few mistakes on Blue, a little depth needed here and there, and a slightly overdone background vocal. It is a lovely album, though, by Joni Mitchell; very blue, but introspective.
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