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The Hissing Of Summer Lawns Print-ready version

by Philip Hay
Salient (Victoria University)
March 29, 1976
Original article: PDF

Joni Mitchell and her particular style have long been quite enigmatic features of the Los Angelos rock scene.

She is a remarkably talented lady and a long series of successful albums bear witness to this fact. Her latest record would probably be her best as it seems unrivalled in its beauty and perceptive approach and it should, according to the artist herself, be constituted graphically musically, lyrically and accidentally' as a whole.

She had put a great amount of work into this album as the layout and graphics are hers, the songs are entirely her own composition and she and drummer John Guerin mixed and produced the final tapes.

As with previous albums, this one is a 'family affair' where every big name in the music business just happens to drop by to play guitar or sing harmonies with her. James Taylor is present on two tracks playing accoustic guitar while Dave Crosby and Graham Nash do some good background vocals on In France They Kiss on Main Street. Jeff 'Skunk' Baxter does electric pieces on that same track and old Mitchell Favourites Victor Feldman and Max Bennett play electric piano and bass respectively.

She moves through the Hissing of Summer Lawns with an effortless style of warmth and grace. What she sees in her subject she has painted as a spectrum of diverse human experience which permeates every song and pulls it into a sequence with the others. The Boho Dance, Edith and The King Pin, and Harry's House Centerpiece are excellent tracks to name only a few and the theme seems to be the disappointment and emptiness at the American middle class ethos.

Her songs stare at the deception at close relationships, the batallion's of paper-minded men with their paper-minded wives, affected women in Parisien dresses sporting ladders in their stockings, and the ambivalent nature at love in a chic and fancy world.

This record is a valuable one to have, showing this very classy lady unravelling a mystery and giving faint clues in her poetry and music.

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