My Favorite Album: Rose Elinor Dougall on Joni Mitchell’s “Blue” | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, May 21st, 2024  

My Favorite Album: Rose Elinor Dougall on Joni Mitchell’s “Blue”

“All of her powers were at her peak.”

Jul 24, 2020 Issue #66 - My Favorite Album - Angel Olsen and Sleater-Kinney Photography by James Loveday Bookmark and Share

My dad was a really big Joni Mitchell fan, so it was on in the house from early childhood, but I was really ready for it at 12 or 13. I had just started to tentatively write songs and it spoke to me. This was a woman who has this whole different language, melodically, chord-wise, and lyrically, that was about things that I didn’t quite understand at that age, but those songs have developed with me as I’ve got older and I keep finding new meaning in them and they have endured for the last 20 years of my life. I relate to it in new ways as I get older.

One thing about her writing is that there is so much nuance, no story is about just one thing, there are always so many different universal themes. These painterly moments of creating these filmic scenes, but also shining a light on grey areas of interaction. Like “The Last Time I Saw Richard,” for example, is such a strange song that starts off as a love song but actually is a lot about her own sense of disconnection, a really defiant female perspective of being created in the eyes of a man and trying to protest against this perception of who she is as a women and trying to lay claim to her own identity. She is the perfect conduit for enunciating these feelings, so emotionally intelligent.

And then on top of that, she is an incredible player, on a technical level. Her chord choices are really unusual, they’ve got a lot of jazz in them, it’s open, there’s something really distinctive about that. I always lean towards looking for something slightly unexpected in my chord progressions and I always find there’s something so unexpected about the way that she writes. It’s a perfect synthesis of her incredible voice, which covers so much ground, she is so expressive in so many different voices, sometimes she is like an angel and then sometimes she is strong, defiant, and guttural. All of her powers were at her peak.

The record is a transition from her first three records, which were her being positioned as a mystical fairy folkstress, and I feel like in Blue she moves away from that into something a bit darker and heavier. Not as fey, she’s not an angel girl, there’s a broken woman in there, there’s more anger.

(Rose Elinor Dougall is a singer/songwriter based in London, whose third solo album, A New Illusion, was released on Vermilion in April this year. She was previously a member of the 2000s indie pop group The Pipettes and has collaborated with Mark Ronson. Portions of Rose Elinor Dougall’s conversation have been abridged and edited for structure and flow.)

[Note: This article originally appeared in Issue 66 of Under the Radar’s print magazine, which is out now. This is its debut online. For the issue we interviewed musicians and actors about their all-time favorite album.]

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