So many great female singer songwriters out there - Gillian Welch, Laura Cantrell, Lucinda Williams, Mary Gaulthier, The Unthanks, Kate Rusby - to name but a few. Suffice to say Anais Mitchell is right up there with the best on the evidence of this album. Love the vulnerable, innocent quality of her voice, the poetic quality of the song structure and lyrics, the gorgeous, multi-layered but understated backing. It's subtle and restrained but quietly uplifting. Highly recommended.
I discovered Anais Mitchell about two years ago when a friend introduced her album Hymns For The Exiled to me and I have been a fan ever since, whilst her efforts to mingle folk with opera in Hadestown was a real treat. This is a more pastoral work and more a romantic hymn to her homeland of America than is evident in her past works, creating a conscious link to folk tradition. It doesn't have the same spark as her earlier works but it is tracks like Wilderland, Venus and Annmarie show us she is still one of the most prodigious (and underrated) talents around. Buy it, it will definitely grow on you. 9/10.
I agree with the enthusiastic reviews here - this is an excellent album. I only came across Anais Mitchell recently when I tried her Child Ballads album Child Ballads. I was sufficiently impressed to try this album too, and I think it is excellent.
Mitchell writes tuneful, intelligent songs which often tell a story with poignant insight into people's lives. She sings them beautifully in a slightly wispy voice which may not be to everyone's taste but which I find very affecting in this material. She and her fellow musicians are excellent, and the arrangement and production shows the songs off perfectly, in my view. It's a really classy, grown-up album which is a pleasure to listen to because of its lovely melodic and harmonic content, but also with the depth to stay with you and make you think.
I think I have been missing out badly by not hearing Anais Mitchell until now, and I intend to get the rest of her work soon. This is a really excellent album which I recommend very warmly.
I am a late arrival at the feist, I have only very recently heard of this remarkable young woman. Okay so the thing that made my ears prick up was the shades of Joanna Newsom in her voice but I very quickly realised that this was not just a copycat sound; there is real substance here.
This albums is just the latest in a short string of brilliantly conceived albums by Anais Mitchell. What is clear is that she has a very clear grasp of her craft. Brilliantly written songs; beautifully executed. She is one of the new breed of folk artists who understand that folk music must be about contemporary themes. There is still a place for those who keep traditional songs and themes alive but there is a real grounds swell of folk artistsb who are moving the music forward.
Not taht i care much about genre, it's all just music, the disticntion must always be if it is good or bad and this is definitely the former.
Thsi album is rather beautifully packaged in a cardboard folder, but what is also clear is that the designer also understands how the cover will look on an iPod.
I found out about Anais Mitchell through Justin Vernon from Bon Iver, when he tweeted about her: "coming down" is a song on @anaismitchell 's record 'young man in america' coming out this spring... and it is a truly masterful song." And: he is right. Even better. Its a breathtaking album. My favorite album of the year so far. Bought it yesterday and i have to say: This is the best piece of music for a long time. 10/10.
'Young Man in America' is an utter joy to listen to. Refreshingly good songwriting with glorious hooks and lyrics that resonate and capture so much. She is consistently developing as a writer and I cannot wait for her next release.
No difficult second album syndrome here. Thoughtful, intelligent, haunting, lyrical and beautifully sung, with a genuinely distinctive voice. You're denying yourself a considerable pleasure if you haven't heard it.
I had read some good reviews about Anais and went to see her at the Cluny in Newcastle when she toured this album last autumn. An intimate venue for hearing her cleverly crafted and nuanced songs. I enjoyed the gig and bought the cd which I played twice back to back as I enjoyed the music so much. Her songs, voice and delivery are very original - I've been listening to music for 30+ years and can't think of anyone comparable. Some have compared her voice to Joanna Newsom - there are similarities but also differences; Anias voice although girlish somehow having a greater maturity.
This record has themes running though it which link some of the songs - lots of references to shepherds and sheep, but not a full blown concept like the previous 'Hadestown'. I'll not dwell on each song, but stand outs for me are the opening duo 'Wilderland' and 'Young Man in America', 'Dyin Day', 'Venus' and the final highly atmospheric 'Ships'
Backing music is mainly understated acoustic, which helps focus attention on the lyrics and Anais idiosyncratic delivery.
I haven't given this 5 stars as that category is reserved for records where I think every track is brilliant, so it is rarely awarded. Having said that there aren't any particularly bad tracks here - a very enjoyable album which inspired me to buy 'Hadestown', which I can also thoroughly recommend.
How do you describe an eclair you adore? Creamy chocolaty light choux pastry - reciting the component parts does not really convey the overall taste sensation. Likewise how to do justice to this album - full of wonderful songs and punchy tunes beautifully sung in an appealing sometimes dead pan delivery, stunning instrumentation and production - have a taste and if you like it get the whole album. Stand out tracks include the 1st two which morph one to the other, the title track is thought provoking and the tune (like others on the album) will happily stay in your head for days. "You are Forgiven" and "Ships" build beautifully and the brass section could be Stax in its hey day, inspired. Quirky lyrics eg "Tailor", each track can be your favourite on a revolving basis. Backing vocals from Jefferson Harmer complement Anais' lead vocal. How could she top this? By not trying to do so, and moving across to "Child Ballads" also a great but different album. American Anglophile (great tour recently - saw her at Cecil Sharp House) this is a must have album.
Have to admit that I'm late coming to the brilliance of Anais Mitchell. It was on seeing her and Jefferson Hamer singing the most beautiful rendition of 'Will of Winsbury' on the folk awards that got me rushing out to get that album, which is five star brilliant. Then I read the reviews on Hadestown and bought that and that is brilliant. Then this! I can't think of a more outstanding trio of albums, all in many ways different but bound together with her great expressive voice- yes it is quite odd but it just suits all these songs and the quality of the songs is up there with the best. Arrangements and musicianship are brilliant. Anais Mitchell is a gem of an artist who makes incredibly beautiful music.