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Both Sides Now

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Album Review

Ex-husband Larry Klein, who serves as co-producer and musical director, explains in his liner notes that Joni Mitchell intended to tell the story of a "modern" romantic relationship in the songs, most of which come from the '30s and '40s. If so, her concept of a modern relationship is very troubled — most of the selections are unhappy love songs. Vince Mendoza's arrangements — a third of them played by a gigantic 71-piece orchestra, a third by a regular-size orchestra, and a third by a swing-style big band — often suggest the oceanic sweep and serious, melancholy tone of film noir movie music. They also do a lot of Mitchell's work for her. As a singer, she has never had much projection or power, but she is a master of phrasing and tone. Mitchell often sounds like an alternate Billie Holiday, with the breathiness and note decay characteristic of later Holiday, if none of her delayed timing. Both Sides Now is not revelatory in a musical sense, but it does achieve its intention of reconceiving Joni Mitchell as an interpretive singer.

Biography

Born: 07 November 1943 in Fort Macleod, Alberta, Canada

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

No female artist better typified the singer/songwriter movement of the '70s than Joni Mitchell, though her public image as the serious, sensitive woman with a guitar shortchanged her abilities, ambitions, and accomplishments. Mitchell's gift for writing personal, folk-inspired songs about the thorny side of life and love was inarguable (particularly on albums like 1970's Ladies of the Canyon and 1971's Blue), but Mitchell also brought the same smarts and eloquence to glossy pop on her commercial...
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