Joni Mitchell, who turns 55 on Nov 7, has just released her 20th album and launched a concert tour with Bob Dylan and Van Morrison. Her newest effort, Taming the Tiger, follows her Grammy Award-winning Turbulent Indigo and a four-year hiatus from recording.
It's fair to assume Mitchell won't be touring many numbers from the Taming the Tiger album. The production process used in the recording involves a VG-8 computer which generates synthesized sounds and also stores alternate guitar tunings that can be layered over the original sound track creating complex tapestries of sound, tonal variants and intricate rhythms. Taming the Tiger was created and recorded almost entirely at Mitchell's home studio.
The first track, Harlem in Havana, opens with a rhythmic, discordant, synthetic chiming which slowly builds into a textured, orchestral collage interwoven with meandering jazz saxophone lines and Mitchell's sonorous, clarinet-like vocal stylings. Her jazz explorations and electronic layering permeate the entire disc. The effect is painterly if not sculptural and one is reminded somewhat of Laurie Anderson with a gift for the lyrical.
Despite the jazzy motifs and computerized sound, Joni Mitchell's trademark gift for crafting evocative images and pointed protest with clever lyrics has never been better. On No Apologies she admonishes:
Freddie said that "Juan thinks, I think
He's the devil"
What a lofty title
For such a petty little tyrant
Bigger beasts abound
And they kick this world around
At this crazy speed
With violence and greed
Tireskids and teethmarks
What happened to this place?
Lawyers and loan sharks
Are laying America to waste
Taming the Tiger proves Mitchell has nothing to prove. She's won the Grammys, the [**cut-off**]