cover image Joni: The Anthology

Joni: The Anthology

Edited by Barney Hoskyns. Picador, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-14862-9

In this thorough if sometimes repetitious collection of writing about Joni Mitchell, Hoskyns (Small Town Talk) includes album reviews, features, and interviews with the artist that span Mitchell’s career, roughly from 1968 to 2007. The collection opens with a biographical sketch of Mitchell excerpted from Before the Gold Rush, Nicholas Jennings’s history of Canadian music, that tells the well-known story of Mitchell’s move from the prairies of Canada to the folk clubs of New York and her rise to become the leading lady of innovation in folk and jazz. Reviews span her career from her first albums, Song to a Seagull and Clouds (seminal rock critic Paul Williams writes that “Mitchell plays guitar like someone smiling at you”), and her work with jazz musician Tom Scott and the L.A. Express on Miles of Aisles, to her later work, such as Taming the Tiger and Shine. Interviews reveal Mitchell’s wittiness, whimsy, and literariness. As Joel Selvin points out in a review of Mitchell’s 2000 show in Concord, Calif.: “The final four songs pointed to the reasons Mitchell’s fans have followed her wherever she’s gone. She knows the emotional interior of her own songs so well, she can wring them out under any conditions.” Though a few pieces tread the same ground, retelling Mitchell’s biography, for example, this collection will serve as a solid introduction to listeners new to Mitchell. [em](Oct.) [/em]