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Are there enough superlatives?
on 3 October 2004
It is very, very hard to describe this CD without resorting to gushing superlatives and over-use of the words "amazing", "fantastic", and "wonderful"; yet this album is all of those things and more; much more.
To describe it briefly, I'd call it a collection of jazz songs and classics carefully selected from the 1920's all the way to the present, sung in beautifully re-orchestrated versions. It also includes re-worked versions of two of Joni's own songs: A Case of You, and the title-track Both Sides Now. Most of the other tracks were at some point sung by the great jazz artistes such as Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald.
Since I bought the CD a week ago I've been as hooked on it as I'm ever going to get. The CD has been on continuous play in my home hi-fi system; it's followed me into the car; and I've even snuck it into my computer at office. I'm surprised it hasn't yet burnt out! The mood of the music is at the same time both deeply emotional and dramatic, but also foot-tappingly upbeat - and this versatility and adaptability is perhaps the CD's best asset.
It's practically impossible to do justice to the collection by pin-pointing its highlights. I was initially drawn to the CD after hearing the version of "Both Sides Now" on the 'Love, Actually' soundtrack. This particular track is remarkable not only for the haunting clarity with which Joni delivers, but also for the stunning orchestration by Vince Mendoza. Now that the CD has started to grow on me, I also think "Answer Me, My Love" is another impressive track.
However cliché it may sound, this is one of those CD's without which no collection can call itself complete. I have never been a die-hard Joni Mitchell aficionado, but this CD is not simply intended for Joni fans. The CD has struck a chord with me and I cannot recommend it enough.