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Joni Mitchell attends to particulars in album Print-ready version

by Michael Jensen
Pasadena Star-News
December 17, 1976

STRAIGHTFORWARD STYLIST - Joni Mitchell creates exacting vocals in her first album waxed since last winter. Entitled "Hejira." the album exemplifies the meaning of the word - a journey to a better place.

"Hejira" is Joni Mitchell's first album since last winter, and like her four previous releases for Asylum Records it is a work of art.

On the opener, "Coyote," a straightforward vocal song with familiar strains of earlier works supplemented by Larry Carlton's lead guitar work, one is confronted with Mitchell's tone for the remainder of the album. It is a slow but pleasantly paced melody. She pays particular attention to each note of the melody whether it is addressed directly or indirectly. At first, it seems too literal, but upon careful listening... everything is produced with care.

This isn't an unfamiliar approach for Mitchell. And it takes a few listenings before one can appreciate the album.

Critics complain that the vocal work is delivered in a somewhat nervous pitch which isn't helped by her unique chordal patterns and heavy-handed lyrics. But that is part of the beauty of Joni Mitchell's music.

Rather than the bigtoned symphonic accompaniment, and louder-than-loud strings that build into a lightweight Manilowesque crescendo. Joni's music remains simple sounding, yet it is complex, a specialized treatment that is tasteful in its own way.

"Amelia" The second song, is a bit more innocent. However, it communicates instantly feelings of loneliness and pipe dreams. Lyrics like: "I pulled into the Cactus Tree Motel/ To shower off the dust And I slept on the strange pillows of my wanderlust. I dreamed of 747's/ Over geometric farms/ Dreams, Amelia, Dreams and false alarms." are not typical; but, they show the type of introspective analysis she sometimes incorporates into her songs. The remainder of side one is about the same in musical style and execution.

Side two varies from song to song. "Blue Motel Room" is the most strikingly different song on the album. It sounds like it's right out of the '30s blues era. It seems to indicate her gradual move toward jazz.

On "Song For Sharon" rhythm is set against the vocal work creating arty shifts in meter. Joni keeps the song moving, while the background vocals are wailing, providing a contrast that can sweep the listener along. Joni's new album fits in well with her previous releases. This album might be just a little too consistent, yet, she hasn't reached the peak of her musical career.

Joni continues to be one of the most powerful and thought provoking female vocalists in the music business today.

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Added to Library on January 10, 2007. (7794)


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