American Catholics who want to register offense at Joni Mitchell’s new album, “Shine,” had better take a number. Mitchell takes aim at Wall Street, Las Vegas, people who talk on cell phones while driving, polluters, bridezillas, and a clergyman named Pearson—your guess whether it’s the Tulsa, Oklahoma megachurch pastor or the 18th century English theologian.
And that’s just on the title track. The album is one long (and beautiful) wail of despair about all that’s wrong with our world, from environmental crisis to misplaced idealism and war. At times Mitchell, who is 63, lapses into cantankerous crochets about “jerks who pass on the right” and bears rummaging in her garbage cans.
The album represents Mitchell’s return, after a decade away from songwriting, to protesting human destructiveness. Lest we miss the point, Mitchell has included a reprise of her 1970’s hit “Big Yellow Taxi” (“They tore down paradise and put up a parking lot”).