Joni Mitchell
Turbulent Indigo

CD (October 25, 1994)
Original Release Date: October 25, 1994
Label: Warner Brothers

The 1996 Grammy winner for best pop album, Joni Mitchell's Turbulent Indigo is the singer's most distinctive and rewarding work since Wild Things Run Fast in 1982. Coproduced by Mitchell and her longtime collaborator and former husband Larry Klein, Turbulent Indigo is perhaps the only one of her '80s and '90s discs on which she isn't unduly hampered by studio technology. Whereas her rotten taste in synthesizers lent an automatically dated sound to 1988's Chalk Mark in a Rain Storm and 1998's Taming the Tiger, here the gadgetry is unobtrusive and enhances the power of Mitchell's voice and guitar playing. It also helps that this batch of songs is particularly evocative and well written, ranging from the graceful "How Do You Stop," on which she wonders how to stop "love from slipping away," to the wonderful vignette "Yvette in English," which describes a chance encounter between Picasso and a reluctant model. Paintings and painters are obviously a major theme on the disc--the cover is Mitchell's portrait of herself in the guise of Van Gogh--but more striking is her pessimistic view of humanity. "The Magdalene Laundries" describes the fate of girls left pregnant and abandoned in convent laundry rooms, "Not to Blame" details "the miseries made of love" for all the world's battered wives, and the title of "Sex Kills" is entirely self-explanatory. "The Sire of Sorrow (Job's Sad Song)," the album's finale, is nothing less than the cries of the much-put-upon Job against a heartless God who makes "everything I dread and everything I fear come true." The plaintive beauty of the music helps sweeten the potential sourness of Mitchell's lyrics. Indeed, the contrast gives great force to Turbulent Indigo and confirms that Mitchell's intellectual prowess and willfully contrary outlook are two qualities sorely missing in the work of many of the contemporary songwriters who cite her as their godhead. --Jason Anderson

Sunny Sunday
Sex Kills
How Do You Stop
Turbulent Indigo
Last Chance Lost
Magdalene Laundries
Not to Blame
Borderline
Yvette in English
Sire of Sorrow (Job's Sad Song)