An exquisite singer-writer from Canada, Joni Mitchell, is currently appearing at the Troubadour in her Los Angeles debut, sharing the bill with Hedge and Donna.
Miss Mitchell's songs have been filtering into the repertoires of other performers for a couple of years (Ian and Sylvia have recorded The Circle Game, Judy Collins has recorded Both Sides Now and Michael From Mountains and Van Ronk sings Chelsea Morning and Clouds).
She, however, only recently ventured to the United States to record an album for Warner Bros. and to perform here.
The purity and range of her voice are on a par with the singing talents of Joan Baez and Judy Collins but her material, all of which she writes, sets her apart from everybody else.
"The cars and buses bustled through the bedlam of the day," she sings in Nathan La Franeer. Her skill with words also produces lines such as "Midway down the midway" and "Cart wheels turn to car wheels."
Apart form her delicate word plays, her songs have the strength of good stories — sometimes even compressed novels — and delicately described scenes rendered as graceful poems within pretty music.
She has a wealth of material cutting across a variety of emotions, from the humor of a dentist who collects junk to the sorrow of a jilted girl to the joy of a city night.
Her voice flies flawlessly through the songs, never settling into routine interpretation but embroidering everything beautifully.
An acoustic guitar is her only accompaniment, her remarks are few and her movements simple, but her songs need no dressing other than her singing.
Miss Mitchell will be appearing at the Troubadour through next week, when Dave Van Ronk will replace Hedge and Donna as second act.