Sibylle Baier is a German folk singer and actress whose musical abilities achieved belated recognition with the 2006 release of the album Colour Green, compiled from songs she had recorded in the early 1970s.Having played guitar and piano as a young girl, she was moved to write her first song, “Remember The Day”, after taking a road trip with a friend across the Alps to Genoa, via Strasbourg.She appeared in Wim Wenders’ 1973 film Alice in the Cities, and her music is also featured in Umarmungen und andere Sachen (1975) and in Wim Wenders’ “Palermo Shooting” (2008) . Baier opted not to pursue an acting or singing career, and eventually moved to America where she concentrated on raising a family.
The songs that went on to make up her album Colour Green were home reel-to-reel tape recordings Baier had made in Germany between 1970 and 1973. Some thirty years later her son Robby compiled a CD from these recordings to give to family members as presents. He also gave a copy to Dinosaur Jr’s J Mascis, who in turn passed it along to the Orange Twin label. Orange Twin released the album in February 2006. She is expected to release a second studio album.
Joni Mitchell’s debut release is a concept album. Side one, subtitled “I Came to the City,” generally exhibits songs about urban subjects that are often dour or repressed in some way. “Out of the City and Down to the Seaside,” by contrast, is a celebration of nature and countryside, mostly containing selections of a charming, positive, or more outgoing nature. What sets this release apart from those of other confession-style singer/songwriters of the time is the craft, subtlety, and evocative power of Mitchell’s lyrics and harmonic style. Numbers such as “Marcie,” “Michael From Mountains,” “The Dawntreader,” and “The Pirate of Penance” effectively utilize sophisticated chord progressions rarely found in this genre. Verses are substantive and highly charged, exhibiting careful workmanship. “Song to a Seagull” has graceful and vivid lyrics about the joys of freedom set to a haunting, wide-ranging vocal line. Conversely, “Cactus Tree” explores the downside of a no-strings-attached approach to life, the fear of committing to a relationship (ironically wedding these words to a hopeful melody and pulsating guitar texture). “Marcie” utilizes poignant, twisting music set to desolately lonely lyrics about a jilted woman; the recurrent use of red and green imagery in the verses is especially clever. Character studies such as “I Had a King” and “Nathan la Franeer” are painfully bleak in contrast to the lithe domestic scene of “Sisotowbell Lane” and the winsomely reserved love song “Michael From Mountains.” Unusual in her oeuvre are the overlapping dialogue prose manner of “The Pirate of Penance” and the jaunty honky tonk stylings of “Night in the City.” Mitchell sings in a light, gossamer, at times diffident manner; vocal harmony is sparingly employed here. David Crosby’s production is simple and effective. This excellent debut is well worth hearing.