Turbulent Indigo

Joni Mitchell

1994: Reprise 9 45786-2

  1. Sunny Sunday
  2. Sex Kills
  3. How Do You Stop
  4. Turbulent Indigo
  5. Last Chance Lost
  6. The Magdalene Laundries
  7. Not to Blame
  8. Borderline
  9. Yvette in English
  10. The Sire of Sorrow (Job’s Sad Song)

Definitely “Sunny Sunday” is a fine example of Mitchell opening an album with a knockout of a captivating track. It’s so brief and so perfectly encapsulated—the story’s there and no filler, just the coloration of the scene like musical paint daubs. The lyric, minimal as it is, gives me some of the same feeling that Jane’s Addiction’s breathtaking “Jane Says” does…LA, heat, and the yearning to break from it all but lacking the gumption more than the opportunity.

“Sex Kills” follows up on the LA tone, notching the anger and violence up several notches. It’s a more profound lyric than it might seem to those unfamiliar with the cultural eras Mitchell’s musical career has spanned and specifically her perspective of having been part of the 1960s/California lovefest part; that sex now not just is used as advertising but actually causes death is probably the ultimate perversion of how it was for them then…and the hard, dirty machinery of materialistic 1990s nastiness comes through in both the lyric and the driving dark beat/beast of this track.

My least-favorite tracks on this album are “Not to Blame,” which is well-intentioned but just too heavyhanded and obvious, and “The Sire of Sorrow,” which has always completely disinterested me. “How Do You Stop” is rather too mild for me, but at least it sounds nice and can sustain repeated visits to see if I get anything more out of it (and it doesn’t hurt that Seal’s gorgeous voice is part of the fabric, if not featured). “Magdalene Laundries” isn’t particularly subtle in its lyrics and story, but it’s a dark little jewel worth coming back to after the first depressing few listens have faded back a bit (which took several years, in my case).