Joni re-examines her 35-year back catalogue with a 70-piece orchestra.
Once as fresh and clear as Canadian spring water, Joni Mitchell's voice these days is as complex and adult as bourbon whiskey. Her remarkable life-ravaged Summertime cameo on Herbie Hancock's Gershwin's World (1998) was barely recognisable as the folky optimist who had chirped The Circle Game in 1967. While Paprika Plains on Don Juan's Reckless Daughter (1978) already had proved she had the vocal and compositional gravitas to justify an orchestral backing and the album Both Sides Now (2000) confirmed her darker way with a strings-adorned standard, Travelogue is something else again. Concentrating on latter-career pieces, those who find post-Court And Spark Mitchell songs jazzily rambling and self-regarding, the recasting of dense works like Otis And Marlene and Refuge Of The Roads into Vince Mendoza-orchestrated impressionist, artsy quasi-tone poems will be even harder to swallow, though most will be intrigued to hear the grown-up readings of Last time I Saw Richard and For The Roses. The rest of us will be in wonder at the musical and literate resonance of her canon, among the most impressive oeuvre of rock-era popular music.