Clouds is what I think of as "real" Joni Mitchell. Although the album kicks off with "Tin Angel" which sounds like a continuation of the austerity of Song to a Seagull. The memorable refrain "found someone to love today" is played and sung with all the joy of someone anticipating that eventually the loved one will leave her or die.
But by the second song "Chelsea Morning" Joni hits her stride. This song has all the joy of love that was missing from Tin Angel. All those little things that seem so full of beauty when you are newly in love: woke up it was a Chelsea morning and she heard traffic, which sounds like music, she saw the sun through yellow curtains and a rainbow on the wall, and milk and toast and honey and oranges - and she invites her lover to spend the day: "oh won't you stay, we'll put on the day, and we'll talk in present tenses." Although then she switches to future tense: "I will bring you incense owls by night by candle light by jewel light if only you will stay."
But next it's I Don't Know Where I Stand, which is a bummer in comparison, with the ambivalence expressed by the title. But it's way catchy with the "feeling too foolish and strange to say the words I had planned - I guess it's too early cause I don't know where I stand."
The Song About the Midway is more like "Wearing Wings" since it's such an arresting metaphor. Roses Blue lays the groundwork for the next album in its description of the cosmic predilections of a friend. This song is distinctive mainly for the funky keyboard accompaniment - everything else so far has been pretty strictly guitar-only. The rest of the songs are just slow and boring to my ears, however poetic they might be. Only her big hit "Clouds" which is the last song on the album has any real musical interest to me.
Next up is the quintessential Joni album "Ladies of the Canyon."