The second in a series of compilation discs by Joni Mitchell, and drawn from various points throughout her storied career, "Songs of a Prairie Girl" offers a glorious account-in-song of the time Mitchell spent in Saskatchewan, the Canadian province she left decades ago as Roberta Joan Anderson, folk singer.
Mitchell, as she displayed with this series' first installment, "Dreamland," has an uncanny knack for cherry-picking tunes from her canon and assembling them in a manner that boasts a continuous narrative and tells a clear story, even if the tunes have been culled from different decades.
"Prairie Girl" is marked by two strains of Mitchell's narrative voice - tunes directly concerning her immediate surroundings, and pieces regarding various topics which happened to have been penned in Saskatchewan. Regardless of their origins, these tracks evoke both physical and spiritual landscapes, and give even the listener who has never been anywhere near the Canadian province a strong, imagistic sense of the place. Mitchell's many talents are in full evidence throughout, naturally - her earliest forays into a harmonically sophisticated folk music marked by her genre-defying acoustic guitar work, the midperiod immersion in jazz harmony, the later penchant for mixing both into a new organic whole.
Finding a classier songwriter than Joni Mitchell is tough to do. And though this material is all previously available, "Prairie Girl" works as an album with an arc and flow all its own.
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Added to Library on April 22, 2005. (9311)
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