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What, today, would most delight a serious Joni Mitchell fan? (Other than a new album?) Print-ready version

by Spider Robinson
BoingBoing
April 24, 2018

How about a whole album full of 11 excellent songs you've never heard before, which Joni wrote between 1964 and 1969 but never got around to recording.....sung by an excellent singer....with expert tasteful backup....including the first song she ever wrote, "Hunter," [ed note: this should be "Day After Day"] which until now had appeared on a handful of early unreleased test-pressings of BLUE? Songs so good, they all sound like just-discovered outtakes from SONG TO A SEAGULL - which is basically what they are? How 'bout, all this for only a sawbuck, US? (or $13 for a physical CD)

That's what just dropped at CD Baby: Christina Friis's stunning new CD THE QUIET OF KNOWING: JONI MITCHELL UNKNOWN. I just bought it, am listening to it for the third time in a row, and it is blowing my mind. Time travel. Half a century in a leap. In 1964 I was in the seminary, studying to become a priest.

Here are the particulars. You'll find samples of each track at Hearnow. Oh yeah - and since this comes from cdbaby.com, it downloads in mp320: sound as crisp as breadsticks, which the average human cannot distinguish from perfect. And they take PayPal.

"The Quiet of Knowing" came to life in the spring of 2015 at Beat 'n Track Recording and Mastering in the idyllic town of Fallbrook, California. All songs were tracked with minimal alterations. This helped give the album its authentic sound and allowed me and my fellow musicians to simply let the songs speak through us.

All of these songs were written by Joni Mitchell between 1964 and 1969. Originating from Joni Mitchell"s earliest years of songwriting, they show Joni as she was just beginning to develop her craft. Joni Mitchell herself never released recordings of these songs. ("Hunter", however, was originally selected for inclusion on Mitchell's most lauded album, 1971's 'Blue' but was replaced by another song before the album was released.) By 1968, at the time of the release of her debut album, "Song to a Seagull", she already had a wealth of new material to choose from and the songs included here didn"t make the cut.

On these song treasures, Joni Mitchell expresses an enormous depth of wisdom. Her playing also shows the beginnings of what came to be a completely unique guitar style. She developed a number of alternate tunings for her instrument as a way of compensating for fingering constraints that were the result of having suffered from polio as a child. The songs speak of love, traveling, relationship challenges, magic, and much more.

We hope you enjoy listening to them even half as much as we enjoyed recording them."

- Christina Friis

The title of this exquisitely executed collection of songs comes from a song that is probably unknown to most people who are not avid fans of the great singer-songwriter, Joni Mitchell. 'Come To The Sunshine' is a song that speaks of illumination and clarity. The resulting combination of these two elements is 'the quiet of knowing' that comes from a depth of understanding so deep that spoken communication becomes superfluous.

Christina Friis's lovely singing voice has a fine clarity and expressiveness that fully illuminates the collection of largely unknown Joni Mitchell songs that make up this CD. Her impeccable phrasing and interpretive skills bring out the beauty of Mitchell's melodies and tease out the multiple layers of meaning in her lyrics. Her voice is not a knock off of Mitchell's but it does have a quality that fits very neatly into these songs. She takes full advantage of the emotional shadings that the music evokes and brings out the fullest depth that the lyrics contain. Christina Friis performs the rare trick of leaving the mark of her own unique interpretations on Joni Mitchell's songs while remaining true to Mitchell's spirit and vision.

Except for the the tracks 'Day After Day' and 'Hunter', the songs on 'The Quiet of Knowing' were never recorded by Joni Mitchell. An acetate recording of 'Day After Day, most likely cut as a demo, was made in 1966. But that recording has never been officially released and the song was never included on any of Joni Mitchell's albums. 'Hunter' was originally selected for inclusion on Mitchell's most lauded album, 1971's 'Blue' and there are some rare test pressings of 'Blue' that include it. But the song was cut before the final version of 'Blue' was released.

Christina Friis's fine instrument is set off to perfection by the finely executed guitar playing of Dave Blackburn and Barnaby Finch's equally impressive facility on keyboards. The combination of these three artists seems to be ideally suited to putting a lustrous finish on these songs that illustrate how Joni Mitchell's uncanny ability to conjoin melodies and lyrics first began to develop. It is a gift to have these early songs, most of which can only be found in YouTube videos of live performances, preserved in this polished but sincere and deeply felt format.

But Christina Friis is the vessel, here, through which the words and melodies of these lovely songs flow. She is nothing but perfection all the way through giving vivid interpretations of these songs, preserving a piece of the creative history of one of our most important songwriters while also breathing new life into this collection of songs.

This article has been viewed 1,261 times since being added on April 24, 2018.

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