Various A Tribute to Joni MItchell

The astounding calibre of contributors to A Tribute to Joni Mitchell is obviously a testament to the artist’s broad influence, and the liberties taken with her songs are as interesting as the renditions that remain faithful. The voices gathered together here are arguably each as idiosyncratic as Mitchell’s and, with the exception of Emmylou Harris’s haunting take on "The Magdalene Laundries” (which Mitchell released on 1994’s Turbulent Indigo), they focus exclusively on her groundbreaking work from the ’70s. Mitchell’s most critically acclaimed album is still Blue, which is represented three times. Prince can’t help but make "A Case of You” that much more sultry, while Sarah McLachlan reminds listeners of her powerful voice with an almost a cappella version of the title track. Another trio of songs from 1975’s The Hissing of Summer Lawns includes a brooding, yet adventurous Elvis Costello on "Edith and the Kingpin” and finds Björk pouring her heart into a sparse rendition of "The Boho Dance.” As expected, Sufjan Stevens creates a bubbly orchestra for "Free Man in Paris” and Annie Lennox’s voice gracefully guides the quirky instrumentation of "Ladies of the Canyon.” Mitchell’s exploration of jazz and avant-garde sounds (not to mention world music, as represented by Caetano Veloso’s authentic "Dreamland”) within pop was unprecedented and, after a second look, her sway over the multi-generational assembly here cannot be overstated. (Nonesuch)