SHINE is an unexpected late masterpiece by Joni Mitchell. Unexpected, because she retired from the music business, sickened by the predominance of industrially produced generic McMusic. Some of the beautiful energy of this music must come from its unexpected creation. There are wonders in Joni's response to our very troubled times: melodically glorious, harmonically rich and radical, and lyrically audacious in their fearless truthfulness, the songs all carry the insights of an extremely well-informed sensibility. the great presiding spirits of Ellington and Debussy seem to me to hover around the lovely, rich, big hearted harmonies. This is great late work, like that of Yeats or Picasso, or Beethoven, full of the audacious energy of creativity renewed.
But above all, what strikes me about this new music is the emotional range it discovers within the most intransigent material. Who else has tackled these big themes, and found such a remarkable artistic response? No one. The music has great emotional range and depth. Certainly there is anger at the massive mess we're all in now, but that anger is modulated into elegy, pity and compassion, as well as humor and good heart. It's moral music, in the best sense, for these songs are about the most important thing; how to live.