Don Juan's Reckless Daughter
Joni Mitchell appeared on the cover of Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter disguised as a Black man—an oblique (and no doubt offensive, regardless of intentions) comment, perhaps, about the shape-shifting nature of this album’s music. This sprawling work covers a lot of terrain, both sonically and thematically—from grandly arranged art songs (“Paprika Plains”) to jittery jazz-pop tunes (“Talk to Me”) and extended percussion interludes (“The Tenth World”), there’s a lot to digest here. Don Juan may best be approached in pieces, starting with Mitchell’s slinky nightclub excursion “Cotton Avenue” and ending with the rueful love meditation “The Silky Veils of Ardor.” An erotic charge animates tracks like “Dreamland” and “Jericho,” while “Otis and Marlena” offers a satiric snapshot of Florida tourists. Lyrically, Joni dives into a dense Hejira-like travelogue in the title track and delivers a pared-down account of two-timing love in “Off Night Backstreet.” Along the way, she coos and soars in jazz chanteuse fashion over her deft guitar playing. The overall mood here is dreamily downbeat, defined by Jaco Pastorius’ throbbing bass and Wayne Shorter’s piping sax.