Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Joni Mitchell: For the Roses [Asylum, 1972]
Sometimes her complaints about the men who have failed her sound petulant, but the appearance of petulance is one of the prices of liberation. If this has none of the ingratiating ease of Blue, that's because Mitchell has smartened up--she's more wary, more cynical. Perhaps as a result, the music, which takes on classical colors from Tom Scott's woodwinds and Bobby Notkoff's chamber strings, is more calculated. Where the pretty swoops of her voice used to sound like a semiconscious parody of the demands placed on all female voices and all females, these sinuous, complex melodies have been composed to her vocal contours with palpable forethought. They reward stubborn attention with almost hypnotic appeal. A