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Shadows and Light Print-ready version

by Tom Sowa
Spokane Spokesman Review
November 21, 1980
Original article: PDF

JONI MITCHELL: "Shadows and Light" Asylum BB704.

Joni Mitchell qualifies as rock's most gifted poet and the best example around of the romantic-confessional balladeer who uses personal experiences to shed light on the endless battles between men and women, good and bad, young and old.

Shadows and Light is appropriately titled, being a two-disc revelation of Ms. Mitchell's mixed feelings for all those contending principles.

Apart from being, on one level, a "best of" collection of both older and more recent works, Shadows and Light is also a perky showcase of Mitchell's super-session musicians. "Gifted" is not kind enough a word to describe the skills of her backup band: Pat Metheny, Lyle Mays, Jaco Pastorius, Don Alias, Michael Brecker and on two cuts the Persuasions.

Equally impressive are the discs' superior engineering and mixing, which help give Shadows and Light not just a bright "live" sound, but a careful musical layering with more depth and precision than you get on most studio albums.

In her earlier live double album, Miles of Aisles, she sounded like a studio singer who used her band to give her material an underlying toughness and sense of dynamics that her voice couldn't provide.

The difference here is hearing Mitchell work as singer and musician in a band that doesn't need her for their focal point. Ironically, that lets Mitchell use her voice and guitar playing that much more effectively. That's one musical bonus in a set of songs that are perfect examples of quality songwriting.

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Added to Library on February 23, 2021. (769)

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