JONI MITCHELL — Joni Mitchell (aka Song to a Seagull) (review)

JONI MITCHELL — Joni Mitchell (aka Song to a Seagull) album cover Album · 1968 · Pop/Art Song/Folk Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
Roberta Joan Anderson aka JONI MITCHELL emerged from the frosty plains of Canada in the Saskatchewan heartlands and developed her unique poetic prowess that took on social issues along with emotional heart string tugs from a very young age. She further stood out by developing her unique contralto vocal style as well as with alternative guitar tunings. While generally considered a folk artist, she incorporated aspects of jazz, rock, classical and R&B into her compositions. While she is much more noted for her 70s releases such as “Ladies Of The Canyon,” “Blue,” “Court And Spark” and my favorite title of all “The Hissing Of Summer Lawns,” JONI began her career all the way back in the early 60s and released her debut album SONG TO A SEAGULL in 1968.

While that was the intended title from the get go, a major boo boo at the printing press omitted the title and the album became known as simply as JONI MITCHELL. The title was supposed to be spelled out by seagulls on the cover and has since been corrected but will immortally live on as a bititular release. The album is divided into two halves. The first five tracks which were originally side one on LP fall under the banner of “I Came To The City” while the following five tracks which composed side two constitute the “Out Of The City And Down To The Seaside” half of the album. They pretty much simply create a filing system as to group subject matter of lyrics. This is very much an insider’s folk music album as it features Stephen Stills on bass and David Crosby as the producer.

While this debut release often gets forgotten in favor of the more successful releases from the 70s, this one should not be missed. This is pure JONI through and through. Perhaps the most pure and unrestrained JONI without any record company and music career pressures to perform. JONI’s vocal performances on this one are simply angelic. As she reaches for the light with her goddess wails, she achieves a state of sublimity that few other could. While the songs are light hearted and acoustically driven, there is a sincere heart felt discharge of emotions going on here. While the JONI sound on the debut won’t sound alien to anyone familiar with her later releases, this is where it all started with all those lovable elements already in place. There is not one track that isn’t captivating as hell on this one. From “I Had A King” to the prickly free “Catcus Tree,” this is a brilliant folk melodrama that injects itself straight into the bloodstream and delivers directly into the heart. A woefully underrated album in her discography.
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