Joni Mitchell: Court and Spark

“Dylan and Leonard Cohen are my real peers. We’re the poets of that generation.” – Joni Mitchell

Why can’t I be Joni Mitchell? Seriously. She’s so talented.

Court and Spark is fantastic but it is not as strong as Blue. This album showcases Jocourt and sparkni’s ability to tell a story but is thematically not as intense. The orchestration on some of the tracks is phenomenal. I’m thinking of “Car on a Hill” and “Down to You” in particular. There is something about the combination of instruments that makes me feel like I’m sitting on a concert stage surrounded by an orchestra.

The use of piano is very abundant. Honestly, I would expect nothing less from Joni Mitchell. She uses the piano and acoustic guitar in a way that Debussy uses seventh chords or Brahms uses hemiola. Beautifully and naturally.

Her vocal range is quite wide and is impressive. She has octaves at her disposal – maybe not Mariah Carey octaves but still quite a range. She can also spit out words faster than I can process them! She would have made a fantastic jazz vocalist back in the days of Billy Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. In fact, on the track “Twisted,” I felt like I was listening to Ella. So amazing.

This album seems to have a jazz influence, as does a lot of Joni Mitchell’s 1970s music. It seems, at least in my imagination, that she spent an extensive amount of time just listening and listening to the jazz greats. I can imagine her listening and then picking up her guitar or sitting at her piano and finding her own way to incorporate what she is hearing in her own modern, singer-songwriter way. Just take a listen to “Raised on Robbery.” Can you hear the influence of the 1940s women’s groups headlining with a big band on a boogie? There is a bit of vocal sliding, tight harmonies, dulcimer, and electric guitar. It is absolutely fantastic – easily my favorite track of the entire album. “Car on a Hill” and “Twisted” also have quite a few jazz elements.

I will always be a huge Joni Mitchell fan and each listen makes me an even bigger fan. She is right up there in my musical esteem along with Elton John, The Beatles, Billy Joel, and Glenn Gould. So, you know, she’s pretty high.

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