Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Joni Mitchell: Travelogue

Tough as it is to rationalize, Joni Mitchell’s pack-a-day habit seems only to have enriched that exquisite voice of hers. On this, her first album for Nonesuch and second, after the jazz-infused Both Sides Now, with the London Symphony Orchestra, Mitchell’s nicotine-stained throatiness shapes a vaguely melancholy sagacity that is stunningly beautiful.

As the title suggests, Travelogue is less a reimagined greatest hits package than a circuitous meander through Mitchell’s own musical past-a 30-year journey from dewy flower child to larger-than-life lady of the canyon. Enlightened and embittered by experiences sweet and sour, she gnaws at a lifetime’s poetry with carnivorous passion, savoring each smoky bite. Consider, for instance, her fresh interpretation of “Woodstock,” backed by a rumbling LSO that echoes the escalating threat of an approaching storm. When Mitchell first recorded it in 1970, she was all wonder and wide-eyed excitement. Now, though, she knows it must be infused with a proper sense of history-a beleaguered appreciation of the promise, since undelivered, that Woodstock represented. Similarly, Court & Spark’s “Trouble Child, ” which originally simmered with amphetamine agitation, has become a paean to resigned acceptance, wallowing in Percodan-like stupor.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published