Understanding the singer songwriter's gift involves tracing a pattern of personal evolution … rather than isolating the most impressive material. Court and Spark (1974) may be Joni Mitchell's finest album, but the continuum that brought her to that point is more exciting than any single effort.
Hindsight helps, of course: when Mitchell made her 1968 recording debut, it would have been difficult to peg her as anything more promising than an obviously gifted but dour and arty poet, more comfortable behind the scenes (supplying material to Judy Collins, Tom Rush, Ian and Sylvia) than she might ever become in the limelight…. But that first record [Songs to a Seagull] now seems...
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