JONI MITCHELL's 15th album, Chalk Marks in a Rain Storm (Geffen) - her first in almost three years - is a remarkable sound excursion that takes the listener on a sometime surrealistic musical journey through time and space.
Mitchell's sense of musical adventure is a constant source of wonder. Like each of her previous albums of the '80s Mitchell again is exploring new territory.
Working with a virtual who's who of musicians, Mitchell has once again crafted an album that acknowledges her folk roots and marries it with the technology of the '80s.
Advance publicity for the album indicated an appearance by notorious punker Billy Idol and sure enough Idol makes a brief cameo, along with Tom Petty on the song, Dancin' Clown. Willie Nelson shows up to add his plaintive vocals to a revised version of the Sons of the Pioneers classic, Cool Water. Jazzman Wayne Shorter's sax work sparkles on A Bird that Whistles, a Mitchell arrangement of the traditional song, Corrina, Corrina.
She runs the gamut of emotion, alternating between the dream-like quality of Cool Water and the vitriolic anti-war song, The Beat of Black Wings.
Chalk Marks in a Rain Storm, shows Mitchell to be one of the most innovative composers of our time.