Album Review: Anaïs Mitchell – ‘Hadestown’ (Righteous Babe)

An album that possesses an easy grace that defies any accusations of pretension

It’s difficult to greet the terms ‘folk opera’ and ‘concept album’ with anything but the skin-crawling revulsion usually reserved for headlines about ‘Broken Britain’. Particularly so when they concern a rather portentous sounding retelling of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice transported to Depression-era New Orleans. But Anaïs Mitchell’s ‘Hadestown’ allays any potential awfulness with an easy grace that defies any accusations of pretension. Anaïs plays Eurydice, her naïve hiccupy tones contrasting gorgeously with Ani DiFranco’s sagacious turn as her mother, Persephone. Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon was surely born to play Orpheus, whose lovelorn song broke Hades’ malignant soul. It’s nothing short of incredible, whether you extract individual tracks like ‘Wedding Song’ – where Eurydice worries about money while Orpheus looks to the trees for solutions – or listen to the endearing tale as an artfully rollicking whole. Mitchell has always been good, but ‘Hadestown’ is her Odyssey.

Laura Snapes

Click here to get your copy of Anaïs Mitchell’s ‘Hadestown’ from the Rough Trade shop