Joni Mitchell, Shine

Coming out of hiding after her 2002 tirade against the music industry, Joni Mitchell has teamed up with Starbucks for Shine; way to stick it to the man, Joni! The album begins with "One Week Last Summer," a tired instrumental piece filled with faux-jazz riffs, before Mitchell starts singing. Inspired by the war in Iraq and various environmental issues, Mitchell continues with her tradition of speaking out through song. Unfortunately, speaking is almost all she does. Although she's made improvements vocally from recent albums, Mitchell essentially talks through most of Shine's tracks, leaving listeners who long for her almost ­eardrum-piercing high notes and delicate folk style with preachy lyrics that end up sounding like a bad medley of Michael Moore films. Her update of "Big Yellow Taxi" was given better treatment in covers by Bob Dylan, Counting Crows with Vanessa Carlton, Amy Grant (yes, Amy Grant) and even as a sample in Q-tip and Janet Jackson's "Got 'til It's Gone." But by far the biggest bummer on the album comes on the title track, in which Mitchell embarrasses herself with lyrics like "Shine on another asshole, passing on the right!" over a track comparable to the dripping water and wind chimes that keep you tense at a cheap day spa.


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