Here come more true confessions from Ms. Mitchell about fractured love and midnight decadence, but this time her social observations and romantic misadventures are more accessible to the general public.
Wild Things Run Fast is a sleek and sassy album redolent of her For the Roses and Court and Spark days, before she turned to a jazzier muse.
On the opening cut, "Chinese Cafe/Unchained Melody," she seems to be bidding a bittersweet farewell to her younger days (she's just turning 40) in lines like "We were wild in the old days / Birth of rock 'n' roll days / Now your kids are coming up straight / And my child's a stranger / I bore her but I could not raise her."
Then with typical suddenness she rails against the present-day blight: "Uranium money is booming through the old home town now / Putting up sleek concrete / Tearing the old landmarks down...Short sighted businessmen / Ah, nothing lasts for long."
Then, just as abruptly, she turns nostalgic again, injecting a few sweet-flowing lines of the old Righteous Brothers hit, "Unchained Melody" before returning to the haunting, rhythmic drive of the main ballad.
This is my favorite on the LP, for its sensitivity and engaging melodic structure more than anything, but it's full of other gems which show a reawakening of Joni's pop craftsmanship like the upbeat, harmonic "Solid Love" and her cover of an obscure Leiber-Stoller rocker "(You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care."
The jazz influence is still occasionally evident, but tempered with instrumental hooks and pop structuring, as on "Moon at the Window," with its resilient bass lines, deft and strident guitar chording, playful soprano sax and brush percussion, and "Be Cool," one of her typically sexy slow-dancers, travels in much the same vein.
And there are other fine moments especially on "Love," a multi-planed rocker/ballad which incorporates into its lyrics the beautiful imagery of lines from the "love chapter" in II Corinthians.
I like a lot of the stuff from her oh-so-hip, jetset jazz period, but too many of those works were merely admirable-but-failed experiments. She's always been more adept in an inventive pop format, which this album proves. It's her best in years and it's nice to see her back.
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