Turbulent Indigo marked Joni Mitchell's return to Reprise Records and along with it's Geffen predecessor Night Ride Home (which to my mind just edges it) this is Mitchell's strongest late period work. The Rock theme has disappeared, instead there's a return to beautiful guitar-led songs featuring strong lyrics and supporting backing from a tight band that remains in the background. There are echoes of Mitchell's folk and jazz origins throughout. Larry Klein plays delicate Bass throughout, and Wayne Shorter adds Soprano Sax to five of the tracks highlighting it's jazz-tinged nature, but often there are no or minimal drums, reminiscent of Hejira, which this album resembles at times and which is a huge plus.
It's hard to pick a standout track because the whole works so well as a journey, just like Hejira. If I had to pick just one track it would be 'The Magdalene Laundries', with Mitchell commenting here on the tragedy of nuns - supposedly kind hearted souls revealing a shocking disregard for 'fallen women'. Mitchell raises her familiar hackles against the pace of 'progress' and the ills of the modern world ('Sex Kills'); and domestic violence ('Not To Blame') - injustice is often called out in her later work. There's plenty about her other major subject too - Love, but here with a twist as it appears to be lost love that raises it's head in 'How Do You Stop', 'Last Chance Lost' and 'The Sire Of Sorrow (Job's Sad Song)' perhaps reflecting her personal relationship with Klein.
This is a major, late period work from Mitchell, always fascinating, always beautifully set with deep lyrics and her own unique guitar tunings to the fore. Klein and Shorter add a lot here. Buy with confidence.
I'm still a relative newcomer to Joni, I fell in love with blue and have enjoyed her following 3 albums and clouds however i never felt any of these other works quite matched blue because the Melodies were too often difficult as were the lyrics (court and spark is an exception to this) and also the vocals seemed perhaps older and wiser, but never as honest as blue. I've Been told Hejira is a great work so I'm gonna check that one out. Turbulent Indigo is a complete return to melody, lyrics and genuine vocals. every track has magnificent melody and lyrics although the tone is fairly fresh as Joni often hits on protest (sex kills, turbulent indigo) and the suffering of others (sunny Sunday, Magdalene Laundries, sire of sorrow, not to blame). Joni's voice has aged perfectly too, it's full of experience, the perfect example being how do you stop, bringing something to the table that James Brown missed, a real sadness at human incapability but also joy in the addition of the lines "how do you stop the ripening corn? how do you stop a baby being born?" at what we can achieve despite our Downfalls. For Me turbulent indigo is the closest joni's ever got to matching blue and in ways its an even more compelling listen than blue, it is an absolute essential in the joni catalogue
After listening to six of Joni Mitchell's albums from the 1970s (all of them absolute classics), Turbulent Indigo provides a great refreshment. The songs are still in the same folk-rock mould of her earlier work, but various touches give it a more modern feel and the inclusion of soprano sax on almost every track adds texture to the music as well as portraying Joni's ongoing love for jazz music. Sunny Sunday is a pleasant opener that leads into the protesting Sex Kills. This song features electric guitars and other touches that make it into the album's rockiest song--and the protesting attitude comes across on the chorus ("the gas leaks, the oil spills, sex sells everything and sex kills") but these words are by no means the least dramatic here. How Do You Stop is a brilliant ballad featuring Seal and is one of the album's highlights (although not written by Joni herself). The title track is the oddest piece but still a great song. Last Chance Lost is another slice of melodic pop, Joni rediscovering her higher range in amongst the deep vocals she uses for most of this album. The Magdalene Laundries is a sad and beautiful ballad, while the following Not To Blame is about an abusive relationship. After these songs, you can't help wondering why Joni is so miserable and reflective - at least she's not dead! The Magdalene Laundries and Not To Blame are two particularly depressing ballads while Last Chance Lost's title gives it all away. Sex Kills is a major protest and Turbulent Indigo explores the world of art. Only Sunny Sunday can claim to be a 'happy' song. Borderline is about how everything seems to have a borderline on it nowadays, not moving away from the protesting attitude of Sex Kills. Yvette In English is another major standout, written with David Crosby while the closer The Sire Of Sorrow (Job's Sad Song) is a wonderful epic about sadness and fear (again). Turbulent Indigo is mainly all about the depressing feelings in life and how to deal with them. The lyrics are sublime as with all of Joni's other songs, and the music reminds you of some of her older work while still retaining a modern feel. The songs are basically among the strongest she has ever constructed and Turbulent Indigo can safely stand alongside albums like For The Roses and Hejira (although I can't see the resemblance between this and the latter album even though many talk about it!). Buy Joni's great album from 1994 and just enjoy it - let it work its magic on you. PS: Take a peek at the inside artwork - these paintings are among Joni's best!
The closing song on this album may be the greatest achievement of Mitchell's career. 'The Sire of Sorrow' takes the most interesting tale of the old testament - the only book to really challenge God - and completely reworks it into a contemporary setting that lashes out with bitterness and angst. Added to this, is the compelling music which builds to epic proportions, like thick paint on Van Gogh's canvas. It is beyond pop music, even by Mitchell's standards and makes you realise the genius of the woman. None of her contemporaries (Dylan and Cohen included) could ever reach these heights and as a climax to a fairly disturbing look at the mess we now seem to be in, Mitchell transcends her own legend. Blue and Hejira were certainly landmark albums, but for my money Turbulent Indigo (three decades later)is her final triumph.Lyrically and musically it all falls into place in a bundle of songs which express their views in the way Picasso's Guernica does - chopped imagery of injustice, brutality and greed leading a culture to the brink. Mitchell still manages humour and love like the early days, but these songs are no longer watercolours. They are a dense pallete of oils, flung onto the page with alarm bells added. The greatest of her masterpieces.
This is an album that shines even from a sparkling repertoire of albums. The title Turbulent Indigo, fits the style of the album beautifully, with each of the songs written in a sort of existentialist, poetic way that is deceptively accessible and tuneful. The title track along with the observant Sex Kills and the heartfelt Magdelene Laundries, especially distinguish themselves. This timeless album is a reminder of why singer-songwriters are called 'artists'.
I heard Blue for the first time in 1991 and was utterly blown away by its purity and focus. This album feels like it continues in that superb tradition of sparseness (despite the more complex production values - a subtle development of those found in Chalk Mark... and Night Ride...) and intensity. Joni's now weightier more gravelly voice is a joy (she remains a unique vocal talent with no peers in my opinion). Musically and lyrically there is so much to listen to on this album. This woman sings with so much heart and such depth of human experience. You can hear that she's a real thinker and she articulates her take on the world through her music so expertly. Relaxing and challenging. How does she manage that?!
I've discovered this priceless album over 15 years too late, and seriously regret not having bought it when it was first released.
I didn't discover Joni's work until the late '70's, but then she rapidly eclipsed everyone else in my collection. Her musical and lyrical genius, coupled with her somewhat prickly but likeable personality, completely won me over.
Then came the '80's, and a succession of (by Joni's previous standards) mediocre, interchangeable, over-produced MoR albums. Night Ride Home was the last and best of these; I enjoyed it, but when Turbulent Indigo and then Taming the Tiger came out, I sadly ignored them to my own loss.
It was a recent fresh interest in the late, great bassist, Jaco Pastorius, that drove me back to Joni's four jazz-period albums (Hejira, Mingus, DJRD and S&L), but I quickly fell back in love with Joni herself and began listening to the late-period albums I had missed: Turbulent Indigo, Taming the Tiger, and (after a 9-yr break) 2007's Shine.
To my delight (and sadness at having missed out on them for so many years), they all turned out to rank with her best work, but Turbulent Indigo stands out as exceptional. Indeed, it may turn out to be the best release of her more-than-brilliant career, but I will have to listen a lot more times before I can confirm that judgement.
Let's just say that it combines some of Joni's most incisive guitar work (a perfection of the technique she developed on the jazz albums) with the warmest, most emotional voicing of her long career, and some of the starkest, most involving poetry as well. Sonically, the album is crisp and resonant, with some of the most beautiful instrumental tones and ensemble playing I have heard on any recording. I cannot recommend this highly enough, for new listeners or lovers of Joni's earlier work alike.
I'm not going to give a critique of every track as others have done on here, yet this is album of which I was unaware. Another Joni masterpiece and I find myself asking how did RollingStones readers not place her TOP of their poll? Mr Dylan is good but, in my opinion, Joni is better.
Turbulent Indigo is undoubtedly Joni's finest album of the nineties in that it combines tuneful melodies with poetic lyrics in a consistent collection of songs. Indeed quality is often the problem with Mitchell's later albums whether it be the convoluted Chalkmark, the dreadful Dog Eat Dog or the sublime(Come in from the cold) and ridiculous(Ray's Dad's CAdillac) Night Ride Home. Turbulent Indigo sees Joni returning to an almost folk pop album with catchy tunes such as Sunny Sunday and How do you stop? However the intensity and cultural references still predominate with the vivid and moving title track and the awesome Magdalene Laundries which sees Joni meditate on the plight of fallen women and manages to be biblical and totally modern. On this album Mitchell proves that she is a master of persona and The Sire of Sorrow (Job's sad song) is an incredible personal and spiritual allegory for a journey into old age. This is one of hte best closing tracks on any album and features Wayne Shorters haunting Sax and an almost orchestral arrangement which anticipates the Both Sides Now project from last year. All this and catchy and singable Joni songs you thought that she had turned her back upon. If you don't believe me check out Borderline and Yvette in English for sheer musicality and verbal craft. If you ignore the corny cover and the musically crass and lyrically gauche protest of sex Kills then you have the finest Joni Mitchell album Hejira. All of Joni's albums grow (apart from Mingus)but this one becomes a blooming beauty that can be enjoyed in many moods.