Album Review: Anaïs Mitchell, "Hadestown"
So this is the music from a "folk opera" Mitchell wrote around 2006, performed by Mitchell and several relatively big voices (Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, Ani DiFranco, Petra Haden & the other two Haden Triplets). Putting the Orpheus/Eurydice myth into a post-apocalyptic yet Depression-like setting, this brings together a ton of great sounds: tin-pan-alley, ghostly folk, Waits-ian narrative, Appalachian bluegrass, and some terrific songwriting.
At times, the lyrical content gets a little wrapped up in narrative and therefore loses a little focus as a recording, but this is really a captivating release.
A very nice touch is that Vernon, as Orpheus, is usually the only singer with multi-tracked vocals, emphasizing the beauty of Orpheus's song - it works wonders to utilize both his soulful baritone and his haunting falsetto. Mitchell, as well, has a fascinatingly strange voice, which is beautifully used here.
Try: 1+, 2++, 3+++(a burner!), 5+, 7++, 8, 10++(Ani!!!!), 11+++(Gorgeous), 13+, 16++, 19++(beautifully dark), 20+