All-Time Albums: #41



1 Night Ride Home 3:21
Passion Play (When All The Slaves Are Free) 5:25
Cherokee Louise 4:32
4 The Windfall (Everything For Nothing) 5:15
5 Slouching Towards Bethlehem 6:45
Come In From The Cold 7:31
Nothing Can Be Done 4:53
8 The Only Joy In Town 5:11
9 Ray’s Dad’s Cadillac 4:33
10 Two Grey Rooms 3:57

With the 1980s done and dusted – including its sampled cigarette machines, Billy Idol cameos and Thomas Dolby “interior decoration” – Joni went back to the sleeker, propulsive style of Hejira on what proved to be her finest work since that album.

Night Ride Home stops worrying about the state of the world, and turns its gaze completely inward. Half the songs are about either her youth or the passage of time, and there is a beautiful melancholy hanging over the entire record.

Night Ride Home is like the best of all Joni; it evokes her ’70s heyday of Hejira and Hissing of Summer Lawns whilst incorporating the rhythmical vocal ticks and tricks of Chalk Mark In A Rainstorm and Dog Eat Dog. There are no ugly, jarring moments, there is no raging against the dying of the light – the angriest she gets is on The Windfall, where an untrustworthy former employee gets it in the neck via a series of withering put-downs. Cherokee Louise is heartbreakingly beautiful, Passion Play equally so, while Come In From The Cold is probably the key track (in edited form, it was the sole single from the album).

Two Grey Rooms takes us back to simpler Joni, just a piano and that voice allowing itself to soar a little like it used to. It actually dates back to the Wild Things Run Fast sessions (a demo is included on the Geffen Recordings boxset), yet it fits the themes and sense of graceful ageing that makes Night Ride Home so special.

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