The world's favorite acquired taste is back with her yearly offering, too: Joni Mitchell. The album is called Court and Spark, and it may be her best yet. Undeniably her most diverse, this album brings her music to the focal point of attention her lyrics have commanded previously. Court and Spark - the title refers to ancient rituals, which Mitchell places in new contexts. She does not sing exclusively of love; more exactly she sings of the vain space between men and women, as in "Down to you": "You go down to the pickup station Craving warmth and beauty You settle for less than fascination A few drinks later you're not so choosey When the closing lights trip off the shadows On the strange new flesh you've found Clutching the night to you like a fig leaf You hurry To the blackness And the blankets To lay down an impression And your loneliness."
Musically, she swings from deep jazz to an elegant, upholstered rocknroll, the textures of which are beautifully laid down by Tom Scott and his L.A. Express, along with the usual quota of superstars, from Cheech y Chong to Robbie Robertson. Her three-octave vocal range is displayed most effectively on her own multi-tracked backup harmonies; and her singing is perhaps the most fluid of her career.
Joni Mitchell's songs are the most literate in rock, richly evoking themes of love by superimposing their episodes over seamy showbiz scenes. And to what avail? She sings in "The same situation", "Still I send up my prayer Wondering who was there to hear I said 'Send me somebody who's strong and somewhat sincere' With the millions of lost and lonely ones I called out to be released Caught in my struggle for higher achievement And my search for love That don't seem to cease."
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