Roberta John Joni Mitchell is a Canadian-US-American singer-songwriter, who majorly did folk and pop music in her career. She has won ten Grammy Awards, including the 2002 Lifetime Achievement Award. One of her 19 studio albums (the last one, Shine, is dated as of 2007) is the 1971 release Blue. The US-American non-profit NPR named (according to Wikipedia) the best one ever made by women. Three female artists calling themselves The Joni Project praise the music of the 1943-born artist and especially that album in their tribute Shades of Blue. The album release date is 3rd November 2023.
The Joni Project – About The Artists
Especially in and around Germany, the members of The Joni Project are rather well-know. The most popular is likely Anne de Wolff. The violin player is part of the Cologne band BAP, but also worked with several other major music acts. Iris Romen is a Dutch singer and composer. However, she is nowadays living in Berlin. She worked in a wide variety of genres, from arranging choirs to pop and jazz. The third band member is Stefanie Hempel, who is majorly known as an expert for The Beatles. She is also touring with Beatles music as well as doing own music.
The Joni Project – Shades of Blue – Track by Track
The ten track album lasts 42 minutes.
1. All I Want
Shades of Blue strictly follows the order of songs as it was defined in the original album. However, the 2023 interpretations do have some freedom in regards of the interpretation. The opener All I Want, for example, is about half a minute longer then the original song. The three vocalists interact a lot with harmonic vocals. Amazing how well the three rather differently sounding ladies work well together on that side. The instrumental side is a beauty as well. Promising beginning.
2. My Old Man
Stefanie Hempel, who is playing the piano part, is responsible for the key instrument of the second. Anne de Wolff is magical on the violin (which finally also turned her into a permanent BAP member). This song feels more simple and also just works with one vocalist. Still, it is
3. Little Green
Little Green spreads a lot of magic in the original version already. Thus, The Joni Project does right when they do a very gentle recording, which is giving a beautiful focus on the story of the song. So far, the album feels like the perfect praise for Joni Mitchell’s 80th birthday.
Finally, Carey is the second song where The Joni Project is working with several layers of vocals again. However, the song also works with a wide range of sounds on the instrumental side as well.
At the original album, you have to change sides of the record after the title track. You might not have to do that – but the song is even more special than the whole album. The warmth and power from Stefanie Hempel’s voice mixes with fragile, fine parts sung by Iris Romen. The instrumental side does not need too much to be wonderful. Great effort.
The beginning of the B-side – or the second half of the album – is more uplifting. You feel the sun of the West Coast state when the trio states California, I’m coming home. The instrumental side of this track gives a lot of opportunity to listen and explore – I especially love Anne de Wolff on the steel guitar in here.
7. This Flight Tonight
I shouldn’t have got on this flight tonight is the last line of the chorus. I would definitely kick myself if I wouldn’t have taken this musical trip with the three women. There is a touch of the Dixie Chicks / The Chicks in their version. Just a three minute song (and thus also just a few seconds longer than the original), but a very impressing, rocking listen.
After this powerful track, the slow piano opening to River feels like a massive slowdown to me. It is so hard to pick individual songs or song part which illustrate the songwriting and storytelling of the Canadian in a perfect way. This eighth track definitely touches me strongly – also due to the beautiful 2023 European interpretation.
It’s coming on Christmas
They’re cutting down trees
They’re putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace
Oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on
9. A Case Of You
A Case Of You is the fourth and thus last song of the album which has already been used to tease the album. Oh, I could drink a case of you, darling and I would still be on my feet. Again, the trio is treating the original with a lot respect, but move it into their world of music. Lovely.
10. The Last Time I Saw Richard
The album Blue received a lot of awards, merits and good critics. The closing song The Last Time I Saw Richard, which feels to have been written about folk singer Patrick Sky, has been named being one of the saddest songs in music history. The Joni Project finds the right instrumental atmosphere, the right accentuation of the lyrics. I almost promise you that this song will touch you.
The Joni Project – Shades of Blue – Spotify
Here is Shades of Blue on Spotify:
The Joni Project – Shades of Blue – My View
In case you never listened to the original album, you should maybe do so first. However, then you should come back to The Joni Project. The three ladies created a masterpiece based on a masterpiece. Not an easy task at all – this tribute is not cheap, trying to make use of the fame of the artist and her recording. It is a real tribute, treating Joni Mitchell and her Blue with huge respect, but also with highest musical quality. I rarely ran into an album which makes me feel that strongly that I should buy a concert ticket or feature a show with my website. Fantastic one.
Favorite Song: This Flight Tonight
The Joni Project – Tour 2023/24
The ladies are presenting the album on tour, right after release as well as in December 2023 and February 2024:
|Fr 03.11.2023||Blomberg (Germany) – Blomberger Songfestival|
|So 05.11.2023||Hamburg – Kampagel|
|Tu 21.11.2023||Dresden – Dreikönigskirche (Jazztage)|
|We 22.11.2023||Bonn – Harmonie|
|Th 23.11.2023||Dusseldorf – Savoy|
|Fr 24.11.2023||Eupen (Belgium) – Alter Schlachthof|
|Sa 25.11.2023||Stadtlohn (Germany) – Lokschuppen|
|Su 26.11.2023||Mölln – Stadthauptmannshof|
|We 13.12.2023||Burgdorf – Stadthaus|
|Th 14.12.2023||Potsdam – Lindenpark|
|Th 01.02.2024||Mönchengladbach – Theater im Gründungshaus|
|Fr 02.02.2024||Cologne – Kulturkirche|
|Sa 03.02.2024||Neunkirchen (Saar) – Stummsche Reithalle|
Canadian Folk Music
Tribute & Cover Music
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