Joni Mitchell Album Reviews

Joni Mitchell isn’t always given the respect she deserves. In her prime she was often labelled in terms of her famous boyfriends; Rolling Stone infamously labelled her the Queen of El Lay in a 1971 piece. There’s also a perception of her as a folk singer, but that only covers the first phase of her long career. In the 1970s Mitchell released a string of great albums that place her as among the most important solo artists of the rock era, fit to rank among greats like Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and David Bowie, as she explored singer-songwriter and jazz territory, as well as the spaces in between.

A childhood bout of polio meant that Joni Mitchell’s fingers were weak, and she was unable to play a guitar conventionally, forcing her to use unconventional tunings. She began her career as a folk singer – compositions like ‘Both Sides Now’ and ‘Chelsea Morning’ were recorded by other artists before Mitchell released her debut album. Her early albums have some well known songs, but aren’t as confident or coherent as her later work – it wasn’t until 1971’s Blue, where she simplified her approach, that she made a truly great album. She followed Blue with a string of great records, where she gradually morphed into a unique jazz-folk hybridization.

In the late seventies, she lost her way somewhat, with a sprawling double album (Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter) and a collaboration with the recently deceased Charles Mingus (Mingus), which are both worthy but a step down from her peak. I haven’t heard any of her albums after 1982’s Wild Things Run Fast, but 1991’s Night Ride Home is often acknowledged as her late career highlight.

Ten Favourite Joni Mitchell Songs
Don’t Interrupt The Sorrow
Blonde In The Bleachers
River
Coyote
A Song For Sharon
Court and Spark
Car On A Hill
Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter
The Dry Cleaner From Des Moines
That Song About The Midway