For all her fame and critical acclaim, there’s a strong argument to suggest that the singer-songwriter is one of the most overlooked artists of her generation. Her songwriting skills may have been floated around as the hot new thing during the sixties but we don’t think she gets enough praise for her vocal performance.
On one such overlooked album, the quite magical For The Roses there lies and equally overlooked track ‘Electricity’. On it Mitchell delivers quite possibly her finest vocal performance of all time. Below we’re taking a closer look by visiting the newly isolated vocals.
The album, as well as being a little undervalued by its peers, is also the first time Mitchell makes a clear and direct move away from her coffeehouse folkie past. Instead, she shifts into a jazzy gear and takes the record and her audience into new creative spaces. Full of evocative imagery and vivid sonics, as Mitchell was known for, it’s on this album that the beautiful ‘Electricity’ resides.
The song sees Mitchell put her thinking cap on and turn a circuit board of metaphors into something charged with the intensity of her words. It works as the perfect backdrop to Mitchell’s thematic structure of the song which pits the supposed docile nature of humanity and its juxtaposing ruthlessness versus the wilds of the countryside.
It’s an interesting prospect that has room to settle within Mitchell’s work and one that is quite studiously and explicitly explained within the lyrics of ‘Electricity’. She sings: “Well I’m learning / It’s peaceful / With a good dog and some trees / Out of touch with the breakdown / Of this century”
When we had listened to the song before we had, as intended, been swept away by the track as a whole piece, subsequently missing these nuances. It is only when you remove the instruments and focus solely on Mitchell’s words that the song’s ingenious creation becomes apparent.
To top it off, the isolated vocal, as one might expect, also gives us a chance to focus in on Mitchell’s incredible range. It sees her voice at peak performance, not yet tortured by a pack-a-day smoking schedule. With it, and the isolated track below, it’s very easy to confuse the Canadian songstress with a genuine siren, lulling us as listeners to our watery doom.
Listen below to Joni Mitchell’s stunning isolated vocal on her track ‘Electricity’: