This album took a while to grow on me, and I think I worked out why. It’s not that I don’t like poetry and imagery in music, it’s just that I prefer it dressed up with as much melodrama as possible – Kate Bush and David Bowie, I’m talking about you! Joni Mitchell’s Blue is firmly melodrama free. The songs are strongly focused on the vocals, with most having just a simple acoustic guitar or piano accompaniment and occasional light percussion. Any dramatics are left to Joni’s wonderfully rich voice, which flies effortlessly from the highs to the lows and provides plenty of interest to offset the simple backing track.
The lyrics are the soulful centre of this album, with perhaps one track deserving a special mention. Little Green is a heartbreaking account of Joni’s decision give her daughter up for adoption. The sadness of this every-day tragedy is captured so poignantly, and the love and longing of a mother in an impossible situation is exposed with sombre skill. This accomplished expression of emotion and experiences continues throughout the album, and I finally understand what Emma Thompson was talking about in Love Actually:
“Joni Mitchell is the woman who taught your cold English wife how to feel”
In general, I find the acoustic guitar sound a bit tinny and empty-sounding, but Joni Mitchell’s powerful writing and beautiful voice are so good that it almost doesn’t matter what goes underneath.