REVIEW: Joni Mitchell’s “Shine” Reissue Has Warmth


Joni Mitchell – Shine – Reissue – 180-Gram Vinyl 12″ – Craft Recordings

Joni Mitchell’s 2007 release “Shine,” was her 19th studio LP (Hear Music/Universal with Starbucks) prior to health issues that may have sidelined Ms. Mitchell.

Nonetheless, Craft Recordings has, as of April 3rd reissued a 12” 180-gram vinyl of the Grammy-winning LP. Sadly, no bonus songs, or outtakes. Recorded by Dan Marnien & produced by Joni (piano, guitar, & other instruments including an antiquated drum machine) Joni is joined by James Taylor, Bob Sheppard (saxes), Greg Leisz (steel guitar), Brian Blade (some drums), Larry Klein (bass), & Paulinho da Costa (percussion).

Considering the LP’s controversial subjects — political, environmental, & social commentary I’ll bypass the obvious controversy about the ironic involvement of Starbucks. Mitchell should’ve done some homework before involving Starbucks as a sponsor.

So, it’s 2020 — set aside opinion because Joni doesn’t shove it down a listeners’ throat in the manner of another Canadian artist. Right, Neil Young?

I like Joni Mitchell, she had a compelling provocative style when she wrote lyrics that had been wordy (“Coyote,” “Refuge of the Roads”) – but they were ingeniously laced together with the right notes, personification, inflection & melodies. She knew how to tell a creative story. She certainly was a better listen than the “paint by the numbers” pop music.

While I can’t agree with everything sung about most songs musically sparkle on this reissue. The new vinyl release has warmth & a low end not as noticeable on digital releases. Originally recorded digitally & not analog, the differences to the average ear are not so discernable.

The LP can be perplexing, but Mitchell was older, she pushed buttons & it’s Joni being Joni.

“One Week Last Summer,” is a pensive piano & sax instrumental, orchestrated gently. Far from the jazz tones, like on “Mingus,” she once explored. “This Place,” follows with good lyrics but it’s not as challenging as the Hejira & Hissing of Summer Lawns work. Thankfully, no Billy Idol & Thomas Dolby this time.

The orchestrated “If I Had a Heart,” has Joni’s warm vocal, & “Hana,” is an equally memorable track. Each nuance clear & sharp. “Bad Dreams,” falls back into a lounge singer mode with absorbing lyrics. A remake of “Big Yellow Taxi,” doesn’t improve on the original though her voice is smokier & retains a mature vocal charm.

“Night of the Iguana” is riveting. A classic song inspired by the Richard Burton-Ava Gardner film. This is what impresses — Joni is a compelling artist. Good on CD, better on vinyl. “Strong & Wrong,” is soothing Mitchell with gentleness & authoritative power. The title track “Shine,” has artistic strength with acoustic guitar by James Taylor.

The late English poet Rudyard Kipling co-writes the finale “If,” & Joni always has a good co-writer.

If this is Joni Mitchell’s last studio effort she’s left us with a bushel of ripe apples & not over-ripe fruit.

The 10-track Vinyl LP is available at Craft Recordings Store and here:

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