Review by Mark Scott, contributing author on JoniMitchell.com
The Quiet of Knowing: Joni Mitchell Unknown
Released March 2nd, 2018
Christina Friis – vocals
Dave Blackburn – guitar
Barnaby Finch – keyboards
Arranged, produced and engineered by Dave Blackburn at Beat ‘n Track Recording, Fallbrook, CA
The title of this exquisitely executed collection of songs comes from a song that is probably unknown to most people who are not avid fans of the great singer-songwriter, Joni Mitchell. ‘Come To The Sunshine’ is a song that speaks of illumination and clarity. The resulting combination of these two elements is ‘the quiet of knowing’ that comes from a depth of understanding so deep that spoken communication becomes superfluous.
Christina Friis’s lovely singing voice has a fine clarity and expressiveness that fully illuminates the collection of largely unknown Joni Mitchell songs that make up this CD. Her impeccable phrasing and interpretive skills bring out the beauty of Mitchell’s melodies and tease out the multiple layers of meaning in her lyrics. Her voice is not a knock off of Mitchell’s but it does have a quality that fits very neatly into these songs. She takes full advantage of the emotional shadings that the music evokes and brings out the fullest depth that the lyrics contain. Christina Friis performs the rare trick of leaving the mark of her own unique interpretations on Joni Mitchell’s songs while remaining true to Mitchell’s spirit and vision.
Except for the the tracks ‘Day After Day’ and ‘Hunter’, the songs on ‘The Quiet of Knowing’ were never recorded by Joni Mitchell. An acetate recording of ‘Day After Day, most likely cut as a demo, was made in 1966. But that recording has never been officially released and the song was never included on any of Joni Mitchell’s albums. ‘Hunter’ was originally selected for inclusion on Mitchell’s most lauded album, 1971’s ‘Blue’ and there are some rare test pressings of ‘Blue’ that include it. But the song was cut before the final version of ‘Blue’ was released.
Christina Friis’s fine instrument is set off to perfection by the finely executed guitar playing of Dave Blackburn and Barnaby Finch’s equally impressive facility on keyboards. The combination of these three artists seems to be ideally suited to putting a lustrous finish on these songs that illustrate how Joni Mitchell’s uncanny ability to conjoin melodies and lyrics first began to develop. It is a gift to have these early songs, most of which can only be found in YouTube videos of live performances, preserved in this polished but sincere and deeply felt format.
But Christina Friis is the vessel, here, through which the words and melodies of these lovely songs flow. She is nothing but perfection all the way through giving vivid interpretations of these songs, preserving a piece of the creative history of one of our most important songwriters while also breathing new life into this collection of songs.