Thursday, July 22, 2010

10. Joni Mitchell - Ladies of the Canyon

Counting down my favorite 25 albums of 1970:

Joni Mitchell - Ladies of the Canyon

This one is a grower. On first listen, it's a pleasant and pretty folk album with the tone set on the folksy opening track, 'Morning Morgantown', with the fun 'Big Yellow Taxi' standing out near the end. After listening to it several times, I found the other tracks beginning to sink in. I was really hooked by the complex arrangements with a variety of instruments (the flutes in 'For Free', and the piano in several tracks) and her expressive vocals that tap into some authentic emotions not typically expressed in pop songs (the sympathetic jealousy in 'The Conversation' stands out to me).

It's 'Woodstock' that really gets me, though; the Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young's cover was louder, more muscular, and more popular - and a fantastic interpretation to be sure - but Mitchell's own version of her song is intimate and soulful with effective non-lyric vocal sections and instrumental sections that highlight the song's haunting piano arrangement.

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