Joni Mitchell (Warner Bros. RS 6376)
I have been hopelessly in love with Joni Mitchell since the unheralded arrival of her first brilliant recording. This is her third collection, and she keeps getting better and better. Her crystal clear imagery is as shining bright as ever, and her melodies, if anything seem to be improving. She always has been a fine guitarist and now, surprisingly, she is becoming a growingly powerful singer, too. Unlike the sometimes delicate vocalizing on her first two recordings, Miss Mitchell's work here seems to revel in chance-taking. She uses epiglottal stops, wide, headtone vibrato and resonant chest tones-- a range of vocalizing that would be remarkable even if Miss Mitchell hadn't written all the songs on the album.
With records this good it always is difficult to recommend highlights, since each of the songs has so many unique qualities. But for starters, try "For Free," a song about a Greenwich Village street musician, "Big Yellow Taxi," perhaps the first entry in a new genre that might ne called Ecology-folk ("They paved paradise. And put up a parking lot."), and Miss Mitchell's already-classic "The Circle Game."