Monday, May 3, 2010

Artist: Anais Mitchell
Album: “Hadestown”
Released: 3/9/10

From a born and bred Vermontian, Miss Anais Mitchell summoned forth (over years) a genius folk opera, that's not just a folk opera. It's an epic tale, one of love, trust, existence, and most significantly loss, the entity we experience everyday in both the little and the big things. Regardless, with Mitchell herself as Eurydice, that bride, Justin Vernon (lead singer of Bon Iver, Volcano Choir) as Orpheus, the man of lyre, Ben Knox Miller (lead singer of The Low Anthem) as Hermes, the messenger, the Haden Triplets (Rachel, Tanya and Petra) as the Fates, Ani Difranco as Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld, and Greg Brown as Hades, the King of the Underworld, the superstar folk and indie cast explodes with distinct voices and stunning characterization.

Something Mitchell always does well (she never disappoints) is story telling. Here is a story that is taught in classrooms everywhere, surfacing indirectly and directly in all walks of life, but has a new, effecting backdrop of the Great Depression era. The words she’s written fall together beautifully and truthfully, with nothing musically messy to hinder them. The words are set on the same plane of importance as the music, like the balance of our inner soundtrack with our inner emotional thought. For those who don’t know the story, here is the rundown. Through the eyes of Anais Mitchell, Orpheus, a virtuoso musician, loses his bride, Eurydice, to the temptation of a better life in the Underworld. Out of love he follows her down to rescue her and attempts to reason with Hades, particularly through the music that hits the soft spot of Persephone. As one could guess, with the aforementioned loss, his attempts are futile due to his own weakness, so when Justin Vernon proclaims that “doubt has come in and chills the air”, we feel that regret as well.

Stylistically, Hadestown is a culmination of nearly everything, from Dixieland, to more twangy country, to soft and beautiful folk, to a frenzied indie rock, making it a fun and loveable piece. In a perfect dream, all you readers could go back in time and watch this in a theater descended from Mount Olympus itself, performed before us. It would be an adventure itself, to watch a dark and multifaceted masterpiece. Sink your teeth into it, breathe it in. I bestow endless love and compliments on this piece.

See Tracks - “If It’s True”, “Way Down Hadestown”, “Wait for Me”, “We Build the Wall”

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