I’ve always loved Joni Mitchell’s Blue, one of the great albums to come out of the early seventies, but it wasn’t until recently that I’d really gotten into Court and Spark, an album that’s pretty much just as enjoyable in my opinion.
Up to this point, Joni’s output had mainly been acoustic-oriented and pretty sparingly produced, but Court and Spark finds her exploring a much more eclectic sound. Songs like “People’s Parties” and “Just Like This Train” feature Joni’s signature acoustic guitar work, but the arrangements are much less sparse than her previous work thanks to instrumental contributions from a wide variety of musicians. And this more polished sound certainly works to the album’s advantage, considering it features two of Joni Mitchell’s most recognizable hits, “Help Me” and “Free Man In Paris”, as well as being among the most successful albums of her career.
Of course one of Court And Spark‘s most notable attributes is that it marked the first time Joni would explore a sound that is heavily influenced by jazz. It’s really pretty remarkable the way the songs are filled with very jazzy arrangements as well as giving off the same folk-rock characteristics that Joni has always displayed. And even with this fusion of these seemingly different genres, the album is probably the most accesible and pop-oriented album of Joni Mitchell’s career.
Joni would continue to pursue a more jazz-oriented sound with the rest of her ’70s output, rather than the more folk-oriented sound that has made her one of rock’s most influential female singer-songwriters. However, Court and Spark shows her melding those two different sensibilities brilliantly, and also contains some of the most enduring songs of her career.
Favorite Tracks: “Free Man In Paris”, “Car On A Hill”, “Raised On Robbery”