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Toronto Star
December 3, 2002

Buoyed by the critical success of 2000's BOTH SIDES NOW, an album mainly comprising interpretations of pop standards, Joni Mitchell now applies the same formula to her own material -- with, generally, even better results. Again working with ex-husband Larry Klein as musical director and co-producer, Mitchell covers 22 self-penned favourites on two CDs. While such offerings as a lovely rendition of "The Circle Game" are lightly bathed in a wash of strings and reeds, the duo are more interested in using the orchestra to punctuate the songs dramatically than they are in presenting pop/ orchestral muzak. When Mitchell sings "Things fall apart / The centre cannot hold" on "Slouching Towards Bethlehem," a crash of drums creates a genuine sense of impending catastrophe. Not everything here succeeds as well -- the way that Mitchell's hushed singing is overwhelmed by brassy flourishes on "Woodstock" is a case in point. But there is an ear toward artistry in every attempt.

 

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