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Tribute to Joni Mitchell

A Tribute to Joni Mitchell

4.0 2
This experimental tribute to revered folk singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell features a mix of well-appointed pop, jazz, and rock artists. Highlights include Cassandra Wilson's warm reading of "For the Roses," k.d. lang's breathtaking "Help Me," Sarah McLachlan's eerily-Mitchell-reminiscent version of "Blue," and Prince's plaintive, gospel-inspired take on "A Case of


This experimental tribute to revered folk singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell features a mix of well-appointed pop, jazz, and rock artists. Highlights include Cassandra Wilson's warm reading of "For the Roses," k.d. lang's breathtaking "Help Me," Sarah McLachlan's eerily-Mitchell-reminiscent version of "Blue," and Prince's plaintive, gospel-inspired take on "A Case of You."

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Margaret Reges
Joni Mitchell covers dot the musical landscape the way Tim Hortons doughnut shacks line the highways of Ontario. It's a little surprising, then, that the first Mitchell tribute album to be released on a major U.S. label didn't emerge until 2007, which was coincidentally the same year Mitchell was scheduled to release Shine, her first studio effort to appear in some ten years. And as far as tribute albums go, A Tribute to Joni Mitchell isn't half bad. The compilation is split up between songs that were recorded specifically for the tribute album, such as Sufjan Stevens' "A Free Man in Paris," and those that were recorded and released previously, such as James Taylor's "River." The tracks that were recorded specifically for A Tribute are far and away the best. Stevens approaches "A Free Man in Paris" with his characteristic, and fitting, over-the-top irony and band geek sensibilities. Opening with a brass fanfare, the kind that wouldn't be out of place in the opening credits of a network news show, Stevens' cover tackles the original with an appropriate sense of theatricality and fun. Björk's lilting cover of "Boho Dance," lush with synthesized bells and whorls, arguably rivals the original. She does a very good job of allowing Mitchell's lyics to unfurl, even while she twists and transforms the song, fairy godmother-style, into something otherworldly. And Caetano Veloso's rendition of "Dreamland" is simply a revelation. It's not a huge stretch from the original, but Veloso's light, gentle vocals, augmented by the the warm, loose Brazilian instrumentation, somehow manages to grab Mitchell's narrative and bring it to life. Mitchell is a storyteller, and the best tracks on here are those that welcome and explore her narratives. The worst ignore or misinterpret them. Prince pays little attention to Mitchell's lyrics on "A Case of You," slashing the first two verses in order to cut right to the chase. This abridged version has a lot of soul, but it does little to pay tribute to Mitchell's original; Prince cut out the pathos and made the song sappy. To be fair, Mitchell's a difficult person to pay tribute to, let alone cover, seeing how she's one of those rare singer/songwriters whose abilities as a performer are equal to her compositions. This stands in stark contrast to someone like Bob Dylan, whose songs were often just as, if not more, enjoyable in their Jimi Hendrix or Joan Baez incarnations. But while she's ultimately the best performer of her own work, Mitchell, with her warbly soprano and idiosyncratic sense of composition, hasn't always lent herself to the unaccustomed ear. A Tribute to Joni Mitchell is thus a great listen for those who'd like to ease into the breadth and range of Mitchell's work by way of established, accessible artists like Prince, Sarah McLachlan and Taylor. Granted, fans will probably find themselves yearning for the original material after listening to this disc, but this is only another way in which A Tribute succeeds. These interpretations, imperfect as they can be, provide new vantage points from which Mitchell's original albums can be located, analyzed, and appreciated.

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Emmylou Harris   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
Caetano Veloso   Vocals,Background Vocals,Hand Clapping
Elvis Costello   Vocals
Larry Goldings   Piano
Cassandra Wilson   Vocals
Sarah McLachlan   Piano,Vocals
Annie Lennox   Vocals
Baluji Shrivastav   Sitar
Brian Ahern   Bass
Roy Babbington   Bass Guitar
John Barclay   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
John Blackwell   Drums
Teddy Borowiecki   Keyboards
Dave Carpenter   Bass
Wilson DasNeves   Bass Drums,Cuica,Tamborim
Marius de Vries   Keyboards
Bill Dillon   Bass,Electric Guitar
Andy Findon   Flute
Jeff Haynes   Percussion
Dave Kershaw   Organ
k.d. lang   Vocals
Mac McAnally   Acoustic Guitar,Keyboards
Brad Mehldau   Piano
Ben Mink   Guitar,Violin,Viola,Mandola
David Piltch   Bass
Paul Pritchard   French Horn
Brandon Ross   Guitar
Guy Sigsworth   Celeste
Randall Stoll   Drums
Pete Thomas   Drums
Louis Jardim   Bass,Percussion
Dinesh   Tabla
Jane Scarpantoni   Cello
Kenny Davis & The Melodyaires   Acoustic Bass
Moreno Veloso   Acoustic Guitar,Cello,Tambourine,Hand Clapping
Anthony Kerr   Vibes
Hugh Seenan   French Horn
Stephane San Juan   Hand Clapping,Snare Drums,Shaker,Tamborim
Sufjan Stevens   Piano,Electric Guitar,Vocals,Wurlitzer
Grégoire Maret   Harmonica
Zero   Drums,Tom-Tom,Hand Clapping,Repique,Snare Drums,Agogo,Shekere,Candombe Drum
Império Serrano   Hand Clapping,Agogo,cowbell
James McAlister   Bass,Guitar,Drums,Background Vocals
Matthew Cooper   Keyboards
Craig Montoro   Trumpet
Chris Caldwell   Bass Clarinet
Domenico Lancelotti   Hand Clapping,Snare Drums,Shaker,Tamborim
Rob Moose   Violin
Pete Whyman   Saxophone
James Taylor   Guitar,Vocals
C.J. Camerieri   Trumpet
Ben Lanz   Trombone
Naho Tsutsui   Violin
Katie Schlaikjer   Cello

Technical Credits

Caetano Veloso   Arranger
Elvis Costello   Arranger,Producer,Audio Production
Prince   Audio Production
James Taylor   Audio Production
Cassandra Wilson   Arranger,Producer,Audio Production
Björk   Audio Production
Brian Ahern   Producer,Audio Production
Donivan Cowart   Engineer
Marius de Vries   Programming
James Farber   Engineer
Benedict Tobias Fenner   Engineer
Robert Hurwitz   Executive Producer
k.d. lang   Producer,Audio Production
Stephen Lipson   Producer
Pierre Marchand   Producer,Engineer,Audio Production
Brad Mehldau   Producer,Audio Production
Ben Mink   Producer,String Arrangements,Audio Production
Heff Moraes   Engineer
Charles Paakkari   Producer,Engineer,Audio Production
Marc Ramaer   Engineer
Brandon Ross   Arranger
Guy Sigsworth   Programming,Producer,Audio Production
Femi Jiya   Engineer
Matthew Cullen   Engineer
Paul Starr   Cover Photo
Moreno Veloso   Arranger,Producer
Robbie Cavolina   Art Direction,Cover Illustration
Damian Taylor   Programming
Daniel Carvalho   Engineer
Sufjan Stevens   Arranger,Producer,Engineer,Audio Production
Zero   Contributor
James McAlister   Arranger,Producer,Engineer,Audio Production
Domenico Lancelotti   Arranger
Robert Edridge Waks   Editorial Coordinator
James Taylor   Producer
Joe Lipinski   Engineer
Stephen Lipson   Audio Production

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A Tribute to Joni Mitchell 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As it should be , A tribute to Joni Mitchell should be done with class. Sufjan Stevens is as original as Mitchell on "Free Man." The pure and unadorned "River" by James Taylor is raw Joni. Brad Melhldau captures the essence of the creativity of this underappreciated artist. The quality of performers and perfomances are not the same as the real thing, but it's the thought that counts.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Tributes are always recorded versions of peer produced interpretations. An artist of Mitchell's stature surely deserved such an honor, given that she has inspired imitators for over a quarter century. Yet nobody can replicate the real thing. Mitchell is peerless in her ability to distill an experience, a feeling, a thought process into poetry set to intriguing music. This tribute contains some worthy renditions, others, well, not so much. It seems that people either love Prince's " A Case of You" or hate it. I happen to love it. It is a faithful reading on a timeless classic, but Prince takes it and makes it his own by wrapping it in a soulful, swing style. Emmylou Harris pays proper homage with her version of " The Magdelene Laundries", excellent choice for such a melancholy, gorgeous song. Sarah McLachlen delivers a fair interpretation of "Blue", save the ill-suited synthesizer that replaces the more poetic piano. Now for the offenders. Annie Lennox, a brilliant artist, completely robs " Ladies of the Canyon". This song's charm is the warm, pastoral quality that plants one square in the middle of Laurel Canyon. Lennox takes you out on an iceberg, supplying WAY too much synth, a device that shouldn't be used at all on music this delicate. Elvis Costello disappoints as well, conjuring some overwrought slant on " Edith and the Kingpin". The song would have been better served with a soft, understated musical backing to maintain the mystery as opposed to this overblown take. James Taylor caps the CD with " River", performing it in a way that one would expect from JT. He adopts it and changes the dressing, but that is where the question comes. Is an effort like this homage or defamation? Interesting for its concept, " Tribute" is not of Joni, but does offer a few songs that are steeped in Joni.