Dreamland is the second volume in Joni Mitchell's self-compiled series of "theme" retrospectives. The first, issued on the Geffen label, was entitled The Beginning of Survival. It focused on songs that dug deep into social, cultural, political, and environmental themes, as "commentaries on the world in which we live." Dreamland was compiled from her Asylum, Reprise, and Nonesuch years and focuses, for lack of a better term, on the jazzier side of her catalog musically, including songs with lyrics are all highly imagistic in their makeup. Most are dealing with love and life in the process of moving through it. From "Free Man in Paris" and the title track, to "In France They Kiss on Main Street," "Come in From the Cold," "Help Me," and of course, "You Turn Me on I'm a Radio," these songs turn the tide for the listener from the place of observing love to the terrain of being caught up in it, where everything is hyperreal and the senses are heightened. The other, tempered side of love is offered with the orchestral version of "Both Sides Now" and "For the Roses." But there are other songs, too, like "Furry Sings the Blues," which paints a nocturnal landscape of the blues past, as visited by the protagonist in dreaming, or travel as an other reality in the orchestral reading of "Amelia," or in "California." In each instance, the view of reality presented is distorted, either by memory, the acute hypersensitivity of the heart, or by the notion of displacement. All of these strains weave a new terrain from Mitchell's oeuvre. The package is, once again, a delight, featuring a fine appreciation by Cameron Crowe, and reproductions of ten of Mitchell's paintings. While the material here has all been released before, as has always been the case with Mitchell's work, context is everything. This bold new context offers a startling view of the artist as auteur.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek