Shine is over-ripe with hokey Casio drum machines, soprano sax, and other things that nudge the tone towards easy listening.
It’s bold, but true: everything Joni did before 1980 was flawless, perfect, changed the lives of music lovers, made music lovers out of doubters, made her a legend. Part of her charm was in her youthful energy, the tenuous grasp she had on her own innocence that made her vulnerable, powerful, a genius, and the voice that could spring through octaves like a hi-bounce ball.
The Joni Paradox is that the experimentation for which she is known and loved has meant she will never make another album like Blue or Clouds. Avoiding too much comparison with her early work is a challenge because it was always in her nature to move away from all she did before.
She’s got soul, always has, but where once music was a safe place for her to express difficult emotions, her later material itself became a bit safe. This is her first album in nine years; she famously swore off the music industry in 2002, but she didn’t stay away long. She’s wizened, a little bitter, and her voice is rougher, and underneath it all, Joni is as Joni ever was, but Shine is over-ripe with hokey Casio drum machines, soprano sax, and other things that nudge the tone towards easy listening.
Her re-recorded ‘Big Yellow Taxi (2007)’ stands out as a restored relic, but ‘Night Of The Iguana’ surges with energy, a culmination, Joni in full bloom. New fans should start earlier in her catalogue, but old fans won’t be too disappointed.
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