Joni Mitchell is back with new material for the first time in nine years. Her new album, "Shine," hit stores Tuesday and has already deeply affected those who have listened to it. This compact disc is the Mitchell that never was - a singer who decided to return after a claim of retirement only to come back with a vengeance so bitter it oozes out of her lyrics and into her much deeper music. She is an artist with a mission, not to sing about love or money or drugs like so many musicians of today, but to tread through real-world issues that don't affect one, but affect all.
No longer the high-pitched flower child that she once was, the days of bra burning and bell bottoms have left this folk singer. Instead, listeners come to find an angry Mitchell, one with a vendetta against mankind. Age, life and grandchildren have taken her voice to a dark, harsh level that resonates in the bottom of the spine, crawling out of the lips and onto a music track that can simply be defined as chilling.
The first track is a wonderful visitation into her instrumental side, which would foreshadow a track list of soothing melodies, but instead, launches into a cry for the environment and against the people who are ruining it.
The title track, "Shine," is especially true of this, with intense lyrics such as, "Shine on good earth, good air, good water / and a safe place for kids to play / Shine on bombs exploding / Half a mile away."
The imagery she paints throughout the CD is reminiscent of the lyrics from her albums of the 1970s - for example her 1974 album, "Court and Spark" - with the exception of her voice, which is now deeper and more furious. Even her reconstruction of one of her most famous songs, "Big Yellow Taxi," was more than daunting. Her voice seemed so much more involved in what that song really means than it ever had before, which was astounding considering what that song had done all those years ago.
What was so amazing about her integration of the music of today, her changing voice and beliefs is not only her shock at society and the adaptation of music to our generation - it was that Mitchell, though evolved and aged, was able to release this music and once again released herself. She continues to stay true to the songstress she was decades ago, even through change. And though it was bitter and gritty, still it had remnants of songs like "A Case of You," which, to this day, is one of the most beautiful songs a female singer/songwriter has written. Mitchell maintains her influential status to this day and die-hard listeners are in for a treat. Revolutionaries and activists beware - Joni Mitchell lives on.
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