Joni Mitchell has had one of the most peculiar career arcs in the history of popular music. Since her first stint as a superstar in the making – from about 1967 to 1975 – her overall creative catalog of complex, challenging, ever-changing music has gone more or less unnoticed by the masses. Of course, this has been done by mutual agreement between artist and audience. Mitchell has no desire to pander (when she's slipped and tried, the results have been very mixed – 1985's poorly received Dog Eat Dog, for example) and the vast majority of the pop music buying public don't want to think when they listen to favored acts.
After the expanded instrumental scale and sonic experimentation of Court & Spark and The Hissing of Summer Lawns, Joni Mitchell reverses that flow for the more intimate, interior music on Hejira, which retracts the arranging style to focus on Mitchell's distinctive acoustic guitar and piano, and the brilliant, lyrical bass fantasias of fretless bass innovator Jaco Pastorius. Known for his furious, sometimes rococo figures beneath the music of Weather Report, Pastorius is tamed by Mitchell's cooler, more deliberate ballads: these meditations coax a far gentler, subdued lyricism from Pastorius, whose intricate bass counterpoints Mitchell's coolly elegant singing, especially on the sublime "Amelia," which transforms the mystery of Amelia Earheart into a parable of both feminism and romantic self-discovery. This isn't Mitchell at her most obviously ambitious, yet the depth of feeling, poetic reach, and musical confidence make this among the finest works in a very fine canon.
One has to wonder why this box, Joni Mitchell's The Studio Albums 1968-1979, was issued only in the European market. During this period –and some would argue even after – Mitchell had one of most consistent quality runs in pop history. She is one of the most influential songwriters and recording artists of the 20th century…
According to Joni Mitchell, Travelogue is her final recorded work, and if that is so, it's a detailed exploration of moments in a career that is as dazzling as it is literally uncompromising. Over 22 tracks and two CDs (and as stunning package featuring a plethora of photographs of Mitchell's paintings), Travelogue is a textured and poetic reminiscence, not a reappraisal, of her work – most of it from the 1970s through the 1990s.