This new album from Joni Mitchell, her 19th, is challenging and well crafted. It's not her best work by any means, but it contains some artfully written songs and some wonderful musical nuances. The opening cut, "Harlem in Havana", blends rock, jazz, and ambient music while retaining Mitchell's eloquent poetic lyrical ramblings as its focal point. Throughout the disc, there is a subtle blend of folk, jazz, and electronics.
Mitchell weaves intricate lyrical and musical tapestries in the moody "Men Are From Mars" and offers up some sensitive but pointed politicizing in "No Apology". The latter seems to have its roots in the recent, much publicized rape of Japanese girls by American servicemen in Okinawa. Mitchell handles the subject well.
Also notable is the title cut with its lush music and sultry melody and complex vocals. The only pace Mitchell seems to falter is "Lead Balloon" which is laced with cliches. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the album is her thoughtful and cinematic rendition of "My Best to You", a 40s song made popular by country music stars The Sons of the Pioneers.
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