While her contemporaries Bob Dylan and Robert Plant have lost their\nvoices, Joni Mitchell seems to have traded hers in. Years of abuse\nhave made Dylan barely comprehensible at times and Plant sounds like\nhe took an eggbeater to the throat, but they still sound like\nthemselves.
Mitchell is often discussed as one of the best female song-writers of\nall time, and she was instantly recognizable from her vocal\ninflections and falsettos. In the early 70s, she epitomized California\nfolk-rock and influenced everyone from CSNY and Led Zeppelin to\nMadonna-who said Mitchell influenced her lyrics more than anyone.
Yet on her new album, even when doing a new version of her own hit\nsong "Big Yellow Taxi," Mitchell sounds like a stranger. After a\nnine-year hiatus (called a retirement), Joni Mitchell comes back (did\nanyone notice she left?) for a respectable, yet forgettable album with\na strong voice. Just not her own.
Mitchell starts Shine with a soothing piano and horn instrumental,\nsetting the tone for an easy listening album. It's perfect for\nThanksgiving dinner or a wine and cheese party and was used for a\nballet featuring Mitchell's photography as a background,
There are highlights on the ten-song album including the title song\n"Shine" which feels almost like a lullaby with Mitchell telling\neveryone to shine on.
The nine original songs are fine, but re-making "Big Yellow Taxi" was\na mistake. Mitchell's voice, damaged by years of chain-smoking, has\nlost the ability to reach the falsetto that gave the original such\nsoul. The new instrumentation (including uninspired harmonica) adds\nlittle to a song she mastered 30 years ago.
The next time I get the mood for Joni, I'm putting on her classic Blue\nalbum. I don't think this one will even make it onto my i pod.