Joni Mitchell is a legend in the history of popular music. She is one of the most consistent performers of all time, and 'Travelogue', her 22nd release, is another classic.
Mitchell has been known recently to appear as a cranky old lady, with no positive comments for anything at all. But she is right about the state of modern music with all the bubblegum pop. 'Travelogue', a bulky set that reworks 22 of her compositions from 1968 to 1994, is not only a brilliant musical treat - the artwork is among Joni's best. The music is classy, stylish and elegant and much more focused than 2000's 'Both Sides Now' standards album. Maybe it is just that I prefer Joni Mitchell originals to classic jazz standards. But nevertheless, 'Travelogue' is one of 2002's underrated gems.
The critics have been eager to slaughter the album, which is very unfair. Most critics have been disappointed with Mitchell's deep, husky voice and the way that the songs have apparently "been reduced to dirges". The orchestra (and swinging band, as some people forget) bring out hidden layers in Joni's songs and they are revamped - so it is not as if you are spending your money on something you already own. Joni's paintings here have to be the best we've seen - her last few albums have concentrated equally on music and art, with 'Taming The Tiger' (1998), 'Turbulent Indigo' (1994) and 'Both Sides Now' (2000) all featuring pages of her paintings. CD One of 'Travelogue' takes you to an art gallery of Joni's paintings, and also features full lyrics, credits and audio clips.
'Travelogue' is a magical journey to take - don't take note of the critics (although some have championed the record). Now nearing her sixties, 'Travelogue' would be a perfect way to end her music career. It is stylish, sophisticated music and you should really investigate.