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Hadestown

4.8 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (1 Dec. 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Shock
  • ASIN: B003IGJ3F6
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 587,261 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Customer Reviews

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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Love this, but not entirely sure why! A totally eclectic mix of styles and singers that somehow creates a wonderful whole (that is better than the sum).
Others have commented on how reminiscent of Joanna Newsom, Mitchel's voice is but it is quite uncanny at times. However if, like me, you find Newsom just a little too contrived (and tiring after while) do not be put off by this comparison. This album, although 'experimental' - is not 'mental'.
Lovely quirky songs that are not difficult. It is not something that needs a few listens to get into and works from the off but crucially is intricate and detailed enough to benefit from further listening. I find one or two pieces of music every 12 months that are worth a review (interestingly Bon Iver, Emma being another recent one) and this is probably this years.
Only 4 reviews suggests few buyers which is a shame - deserves to be more widely heard.
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Format: Audio CD
2010 is turning into an astonishing year for new albums from female singers. Thus far we have great albums from Laura Marling, Joanna Newsom, Natalie Merchant, Patti Griffin and Laura Viers and to this stellar list we must now add "Hadestown" by Anais Mitchell. Conceived in her home in rural Vermont it is an entire album or more precisely a folk opera about the Orpheus and Eurydice saga (blessedly free of Offenbach style "Can Cans"), in which a devoted musician travels to the underworld to retrieve his dead bride. But in addition she takes on board new themes in "Hadestown" set in the American depression era but prefiguring some very current issues. It would take a thesis to explain all this and if you want more info check out her fascinating interview on NPR for a thorough telling of the underpinning concept. The key fact is that the music throughout is absolutely out of the top drawer.

So who is in the cast list of this vast folk opera? Ladies and Gentleman we have -

Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) as Orpheus
Greg Brown as Hades,
Ben Knox Miller (The Low Anthem) as Hermes,
Ani DiFranco as Persephone,
Anais Mitchell herself in the role of Eurydice

Unsurprisingly each shines brightly particularly Greg Brown who brings a Tom Waits like granite quality to the album and overall it is a mighty collaboration from a range of musicians who are at the top of their game. Highlights on a very long album include the sparkling opener "Wedding song" a duet between Mitchell and Vernon which is just beautiful and very accessible. Mitchell's voice clearly will lead to some comparisons with Joanna Newsom but is has its distinctive edge and the standard of her song writing throughout is first class.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Someone I know, with similar musical tastes to mine, was trying to interest me in Anais Mitchell for ages, but although I checked her out on YouTube and on her website, I just didn't get it, as her voice just irritated me. But then, for some reason, I bought "Hadestown" and...well, I may not be a fan of Ms Mitchell's singing, but I'm sure a fan of this album and everything she's achieved on it. Drawing on a wide palette of influences, she presents the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice as a depression-era fable, as if Tom Waits had descended on a 30s shanty-town and coaxed the residents into putting on a show with him.

Enlisting a fantastic cast of distinctive voices has certainly made a difference, and it also helps that Ms Mitchell, when she applies her own voice, does so with touching grace and delicacy, and does so on songs that suit her vocal style. Everyone else gets their moments, as well, especially Ani DiFranco, who channels Mae West in "Our Lady of the Underground". There's also the stirring call-and-response of "Why We Build the Wall" with Greg Brown's growling voice lending a beautiful gravitas, the Haden Triplets' breathtaking harmonies on all their songs and even some gorgeous Brian Wilson-like "la la la"s (to use a technical term) make an appearance. This album is chock full of glorious moments, so many that it's almost impossible, actually, to pick them out. By the time the album fades out with the sad, resigned and heartbreaking "I Raise My Cup to Him" I was almost in tears.

It's thrilling to find an album that draws on so many styles and influences and yet still manages to come up with something this fresh, this beautiful and this soulful.
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Format: Audio CD
When this album was released last Spring it apparently received the best reviews (worldwide) of any album in recorded history.
I read many of the reviews but decided a folk-opera based on Greek myths didn't sound like my kind of thing. Further, I don't really like Mitchell's squeaky Kate Bush-like voice.
I was very wrong.
This album is unlike anything I've heard before: you can't say to someone 'if you like so-and-so, you'll like this'. It is the albums very originality that is breathtaking. That said, there are echoes of Tom Waits, Dr John, Bon Iver, Joanna Newsom, Randy Newman and Bertold Brecht.
The songs are fabulous and gloriously arranged - some you feel you've known all your life.
In 'Why We Build The Wall' the album has the best song I've heard since.........? - a parable of ancient myth and modern political statement.
In all the album is a miracle, an utter joy which I feel would have a large public if only people got to hear it.
Give it a chance
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