Shine (Dig)

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aec.hear30457.2
$11.98

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    Shine (Dig) Hear Music
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Review

Review Text Shine, recorded and released in 2007, is the sign from the heavens that Joni Mitchell has come out of retirement. She left in the early part of the century, railing against a music industry that only cared about "golf and rappers," accusing it of virtually every artistic crime under the sun. So the irony that she signed to Hear Music, Starbucks' music imprint, is pronounced. The company has been embroiled in controversy over its labor and trade practices, and has been accused of union-busting and spying on its employees and union members. It's especially ironic given the nature of the music on this set, which is political, environmental, and social in its commentary. Hear Music has also issued recordings by Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan, so she's in great company. But it's music that we're after here, and Mitchell doesn't disappoint on this score. She doesn't have the same reach vocally that she used to. A lifetime of cigarette smoking will do that to you. But given the deeply reflective and uncomfortably contemplative nature of some of these songs, it hardly matters. Mitchell produced this set herself, and with the exception of guest performances -- saxophones by Bob Sheppard, steel guitar by Greg Leisz, some drum spots by Brian Blade, and bass by Larry Klein, all selectively featured -- Mitchell plays piano, guitar, and does all the other instrumentation and arrangements herself. The drum machine she uses is so antiquated that it's corny, but it's also charming in the way she employs it. The songs carry the same weight they always have. Her off-kilter acoustic guitar playing is as rhythmically complex as ever, and her commentary is biting, sardonic, and poetic.The set begins with a five-minute instrumental that would be perfect to accompany the images of the ballet dancers on the cover. "This Place," where her acoustic guitar, a synth, and the pedal steel are kissed by Sheppard's soprano saxophone, follows it. It's a statement of place, and the knowledge that its natural beauty is heavenly, but will not remain that way: "You see those lovely hills/They won't be there for long/They're gonna tear 'em down/And sell 'em to California...when this place looks like a moonscape/Don't say I didn't warn ya." She ends it with a prayer for the "courage and the grace/To make genius of this tragedy/The genius to save this place." It's hardly the standard pontificating of rock stars. Thank God. The next tune, "If I Had a Heart," with Blade, Klein, and Leisz, offers this confession: "Holy war/Genocide/Suicide/Hate and cruelty...How can this be holy?/If I had a heart, I'd cry." It's the acceptance of the dehumanization of the culture as well as the increasing uninhabitability of the planet, this resignation that's so startling even as these melodies take you to the places in Mitchell's songwriting we've always loved. The massive drum loops, didgeridoo samples, and bass throbs -- with additional percussion by Paulinho da Costa -- is a story-song that is meant to be a backbone, hands dirty working and improving things. It's haunting, as it hovers inside its groove with startling electric guitar distortion and effects. But only two songs later we move to "Big Yellow Taxi ." It's radically revisioned and reshaped. It's full of darker tones, soundscapes, an accordion sample, and a tougher acoustic guitar strum. What used to be a hummable if biting indictment of the powers that be, who wanted to develop every last inch of natural space, has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The exhortation to farmers is still there, but it's more a bitter reminder of the refrain. It's the only song here, and followed by the most beautiful cut on the entire set in "Night of the Iguana," a big, elegant, polyrhythmic allegory that features some of the greatest guitar playing Mitchell has ever done -- those leads actually sear, though she employs them as Brian Eno would. In this tune, the storyteller is at the height of her powers, examining the contradictions in bein

Track Listing

CD: 1

  1. 1. One Week Last Summer - 5:59
  2. 2. This Place - 4:54
  3. 3. If I Had a Heart - 4:04
  4. 4. Hana - 4:43
  5. 5. Bad Dreams - 6:41
  6. 6. Big Yellow Taxi (2007) - 3:47
  7. 7. Night of the Iguana - 5:38
  8. 8. Strong and Wrong - 4:04
  9. 9. Shine - 7:29
  10. 10. If - 6:32

Product Details

Release Date
9/25/07 

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