Joni Mitchell’s Blue reviewed – archive, 29 June 1971

29 June 1971 An album more about Mitchell herself, less of scenes she’s observed

Joni Mitchell’s new album, Blue, is about to he released here by Warner Brothers (K 44128). A large proportion of Joni’s most notable songs, to date, have been intensely visual. What she’s seen, she has refined; but the songs’ images have been those of the eye.

The lyrics of Blue are less adventurous than in her previous three albums; on the other hand, its music is less careful. This is a fair exchange. The album is much more about Joni herself, less of scenes she’s observed. The songs that stand out, at least at first, are earthy. In ‘All I Want’ Joni wants to “wreck my stockings in some juke-box dive”.

She makes it clear that she doesn’t care to be construed as dependable. Instead she insists on being able to be wilful. Blue is, I suppose, less representative of women than Joni’s previous albums; but its songs are as marvellously singular, if more relaxed.

Graham Nash is the “Willy” of the Joni song of that name. His style is openly confessional: there’s a group of singers in California, including Joni, James Taylor, Stephen Stills, and Neil Young, at least some of whose songs are letters to one another. Nash has just released his first album, Songs For Beginners (Atlantic SD 7204).

Songs For Beginners is yet another album recorded at Wally Heider’s studio, with the mandatory star musicians as backers. This overpopulation helped to make David Crosby’s solo album a swamp of unresolved sound. By contrast, Nash uses his musicians with focus and economy.

Geoffrey Cannon

The GuardianTramp

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