Songs of a Prairie Girl
First Appeared in The Music Box, May 2005, Volume 12, #5
Written by John Metzger
Although the third chapter in Joni Mitchellís re-visitation of her extensive catalogue is peppered with political statements that undoubtedly are directed at the current American administrationís imperialistic tendencies, the set primarily is meant to serve as an ode to her childhood home of Saskatchewan, Canada, which is in the midst of celebrating its centennial anniversary. Indeed, itís Mitchellís frost-covered reflections and bittersweet memories that bind together the thirteen tracks of Songs of a Prairie Girl. While the collection mirrors the triumphant discoveries of its predecessor Dreamland, it also suffers some of the same pitfalls. Quite frankly, Mitchellís airily arranged music from the latter portion of her career isnít nearly as captivating as her intimate work during the í70s. As a result, although her lyrical gifts never disappeared, songs such as The Tea Leaf Prophecy (Lay Down Your Arms) and Rayís Dadís Cadillac arenít nearly as timeless as tunes like River, Song for Sharon, or her 1967 single Urge for Going. That said, Songs of a Prairie Girl does unearth some true gems, and in doing so, it places them within a striking new context. While the orchestral reconfiguration of Cherokee Louise is, perhaps, a tad too precious, itís still a remarkable composition that previously was lost within the tedious confines of both Travelogue and Night Ride Home. Elsewhere, the sprawling epic Paprika Plains is presented with a different mix that emphasizes Mitchellís piano accompaniment, while the rest ó from the driving boogie of Raised on Robbery to the sparse piano and horn majesty of Let the Wind Carry Me to the intricate jazz-inflected wisps of Harlem in Havana ó provide prime examples as to why Mitchell is so revered. Ĺ
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box