Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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JONI MITCHELL
Shine
Hear Music

Some jazzy, apocalyptic tales about global warming to go with your latte

Joni Mitchell is the kind of aging egoist who gives ecology a bad name. On her first album in five years and first for Starbucks -- a connection some anti-corporatists will foolishly disparage -- she rails against environmental ills with the privileged pique of someone who considers the world's failure to resemble the one she grew up in a cosmic affront. Skillfully marshaling the jazzy growl and desultory melodies she's cultivated for decades, she observes that "there's just too many people now," compares our world unfavorably to the Garden of Eden and heaps cell phones with her gorgeous wrath. Given Mitchell's talent and prestige, it's a waste of precious resources that she couldn't have emulated the kindhearted heroine of "Hana" when reminding the caffeinated consumer that nature is gravely out of whack. Instead, her most nuanced new lyric details an apostate tour-bus driver's descent into a luscious sin she probably knows better than she lets on. The runner-up is the title tune, where she grants the sun leave to bless all sinners -- even cell-phone users! Text her your thanks.

Rolling Stone, Oct. 4, 2007