Joni Mitchell laughing with joy is among the sweetest of sounds heard on At Newport

The album captures Mitchell and a cast of musical friends and admirers at the 2022 Newport Folk Festival during the singer/songwriter’s first public performance in two decades. Led by Brandi Carlile, the Joni Jam band includes Lucius, guitarists Taylor Goldsmith and Celisse, pianist Ben Lusher, percussionists Marcus Mumford and Matt Chamberlain, Allison Russell on clarinet and others. 

Everyone sings. 

Including, of course, Mitchell, whose voice has deepened and become less agile. But being a vocalist extraordinaire, the then-78-year-old shines on ballads such as “Amelia,” “Both Sides Now” and “Summertime.” 

She even picks up an electric guitar for “Just Like this Train” to the delight of the appreciative audience which roars with delight every time Mitchell nails a note. 

And even when she doesn’t. 

For her part, Mitchell is tickled, laughing with satisfied delight between – and occasionally during – numbers and offering support when her collaborators take over, as Lucius do on “Big Yellow Taxi” and Celisse does on “Help Me.” 

At Newport is ultimately less a Joni Mitchell album and more a celebration of Joni Mitchell. And in that regard, it is hugely successful.