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Joni Mitchell comes home on new album Print-ready version

by Cliff Radel
Gannett news Service
April 22, 1988
Original article: PDF

Joni Mitchell has returned to earth. After more than a decade of making albums only a space cadet could love, she has both feet on the ground for her new recording Chalk Mark in a Rainstorm. (Gaffen Records).

Mitchell marked her 20th anniversary as a recording artist on March 22nd with the perfect gift, the release of Chalk Mark. The album -- Mitchell's first in nearly three years -- shows where the willowy voiced singer-songwriter has been and where she is going. It also shows how far ahead of her time she has been for the last 13 years and how popular music is finally catching up to her.

All of the above is evidenced in the album's first song, My Secret Place. At first impression, Mitchell sounds like Suzanne Vega, deep and noncommittal. Then, the dawn breaks.

Vega sounds like Mitchell. She stole Mitchell's trademarks while the veteran singer was out playing in the ozone on the series of spaced out, art-song albums that began in 1975 with the Hissing of Summer Lawns.

As My Secret Place progresses, it's rhythm and melody -- sung with Peter Gabriel -- sound very current. The angular melody, shifting vocals, crisp acoustic guitar, lilting synthesized sounds and drumbeats that take turns being brash and subdued would be just at home on Gabriel's recent award winning album, So, as they would on Mitchell's 1976 LP, Heijra.

My Secret Place is just one of three notable duets on the album. Mitchell pits her vocal cords against Billy Idol's black leather voice on the mini rock opera, Dancin' Clown. For the timeless Western number, Cool Water, she saddles up with an unlikely sidekick, Willie Nelson. The pairing seems strange. Nevertheless, their odd harmonies make beautiful music as the lady of the canyon rides off into the sunset with ol' Willie the sidewinder.

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Added to Library on April 16, 2022. (551)

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