I’m playing catch up a bit here, as I first discovered Hadestown whilst researching storytelling albums during the late springtime. Anais Mitchell’s gravelly innocence has spawned a number of solo albums, but her folk opera Hadestown has blown me – and many others – completely away.
It’s a concept album based on the Ancient Greek Orpheus myth, arching from the polite, delicate opening exchanges between Orpheus and Eurydice on Wedding Song, to the deep south influenced jamboree of Way Down Hadestown.
My love of folk music is often derided by friends and acquaintances but I challenge anyone not to be spellbound by this creation, which is far greater than the sum of its parts.
Even having said that, the individual parts are mightily impressive. Anais brings in countless guests to play the various characters in the story, most notably for me the wonderful Ani DiFranco playing the part of Persephone. DiFranco was Anais’ childhood idol, she then signed to her label and now for them to be collaborating is a lovely story in itself.
But that’s not where the story ends. I had the pleasure of seeing Anais live at the Hare and Hounds in October, accompanied by the Hadestown arranger Michael Chorney. Towards the end of the show, she announced a one-off performance of Hadestown with Ani DiFranco and Martin Carthy at the Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow. No prizes for where I’ll be heading in January!
It’s hard to sum up the Americana splendour of Hadestown, so I’ll leave you with some quotes and a sampler for you to make your mind up, but please, do spend an hour of your time listening to Hadestown (Spotify) in its entirety, you shall be rewarded.
See you in Glasgow!
“the earthiness of Shawn Colvin, the child-like bite of Joanna Newsom, and the urban jumpiness of Ani DiFranco” – AllMusic on Anais Mitchell
The songs are lyrical, while dramatic arrangements encompass Dixieland, string sextet and country. A rich, audacious and moving opus – The Observer on Hadestown
Anaïs Mitchell adds another record to this coveted pile, comfortably aligning herself with Sufjan Stevens, Joanna Newsom and the like in the process: singer-songwriters possessing both the audacity to take on brain-weltingly big concepts and the sheer talent required to pull them off. It is, simply, irresistible – Drowned in Sound on Hadestown
“Wedding Song”, both parts performed by Anais Mitchell:
“Why We Build The Wall” (feat. Greg Brown) and “Our Lady of the Underground” (feat Ani DiFranco):