Joni Mitchell gives her fans another nudge with the release of her second live album, "Shadows and Light."
When listening to the album for the first time most of the songs on "Shadows and Light" sound rough and unfinished compared to the studio versions.
This is because Mitchell has changed the phrasings in some of the songs and drastically altered the arrangements in others.
Mitchell's voice also sounds a little rougher, like it has an edge, in this live setting.
But her voice becomes clear as she elegantly eases into the jazz phrasings of "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat."
"In France They Kiss On Main Street" and "Free Man In Paris" were originally light and breezy, slightly jazzy pop tunes.
The changes come not only from Mitchell, but also from the musicians she uses as her back-up band.
The most obvious factor in the sound of this album is Jaco Pastorius, the current Weather Report bassist, who began playing on Mitchell's albums with "Hejira."
Pat Metheny, generously billed as lead guitarist, plays beautifully behind Mitchell. He is especially good on "Amelia" and "Furry Sings the Blues."
Since most Mitchell songs have generous rhythm and sparse lead guitar parts, Metheny does not get heard as much as he deserves.
Lyle Mays, the keyboardist in Pat Metheny's group, and Don Alias, a former Weather Report percussionist, fill out this excellent band.
There is also some squawking through most of the album that is passed off as saxophone and attributed to Michael Brecker.
The Persuasions, an a cappella group, provide Mitchell with back-up.
Even with those damnable scratches, pops and clicks included in the price of almost every Elektra/Asylum pressing I know of, "Shadows and Light" is wonderful.
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