Joni Mitchell’s 15th studio album was her first to win a Grammy (though she had won twice before for performances of individual songs). 1994’s Turbulent Indigo picked up the award for Best Pop Album, besting Madonna, Mariah Carey, Annie Lennox and the Eagles.
This album feels like a throwback to Mitchell’s great 70s work, even if it never hits those highs. It sounds great and features some memorable tracks, especially in its superior first half.
In 1991, Joni Mitchell closed out a four-album run with Geffen Records that included her three somewhat cringeworthy 80s releases. The fourth record, though, was a notable improvement.
In fact, 14 albums in, I’m currently ranking Night Ride Home among Mitchell’s top five. This is a beautiful, rich album steeped in nostalgia. And it finds Mitchell back in her comfort zone of piano and acoustic guitar, as the glitzy 80s production gives way to a much more palatable 90s sheen.
A benefit of Joni Mitchell slowing down her album pace from one per year to one every three years is that she managed to release only three records in the 80s.
The third and final of these, 1988’s Chalk Mark in a Rain Storm, closed out the decade on a slightly higher note than its two predecessors, but it is still a far cry from the heights of the early 70s. This is a decade best forgotten, with output only a superfan could love.
Joni Mitchell continued her ill-advised exploration of 80s pop with 1985’s Dog Eat Dog, an album considered her worst by many fans.
For the first time she shared production duties, with husband Larry Klein as well as Mike Shipley and Thomas Dolby. Dolby contributed synths and excessive sampling, doubling down on the New Wave sound that proved such a weird fit. Mitchell doesn’t play guitar on a single track.
Joni Mitchell waited three years between studio albums, the longest gap in her career to that point, before diving into a new decade with 1982’s Wild Things Run Fast.
Typically unpredictable, and citing the influence of such bands as The Police, Steely Dan and Talking Heads, Mitchell set aside the jazz experimentation of her past few records and fully embraced an 80s pop sound.