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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 11 February 2013
Couldn't agree more with first reviewer. Surely there's room for more than one vision on how these songs can be imagined. I'm pretty sure that when these songs were first around every singer had their own slant on how to sing them. This is a fantastic album which deserves a wider public.
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on 12 February 2013
'Willie of Winsbury' is perhaps one of the most beautiful melodies of all time, and this is complemented by one of the finest folk tales of all time: though it is anathema for me to warm to a dictatorial monarch/parent and the triumph of one more of the landed classes. However, the love story of Janet [and must be Janet, not Jane as is sometimes sung] and William is itself such a romantic triumph. Then there are the great lines, as when the King/father sees William for the first time and declares 'if I were a woman as I am a man, in my own bed you would have been'.

The version of this on 'Child Ballads' is itself one of the most beautiful I have heard. John Renbourn's will probably always be the touchstone for a tender and warming rendition, and another more recent excellent outing is on Meg Baird's 2010 album 'Dear Companion'. Anais Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer present a faithful performance, and it is the perfect companionship of their singing that works so wonderfully here, Hamer's sweetness the surprising vocal empathy to Mitchell's slightly tart tones, but itself a blissful marriage of sound. The pump organ provides such a glorious base throughout. Worth the price of this album entirely on its own.

The other six ballads from the collection of Sir Francis James Child consolidate the folk credentials on this honest and simply superb album. Final song, the Scottish ballad 'Tam Lin', tells another yet more metaphorical story of pregnancy and ultimate true love. But none doth compare with the opener which has melted my aural affections as did Janet's for her Lord Willie.
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on 17 June 2014
I started out as a real folkie and it still flows in my blood. The Child Ballads are so quintessentially Anglo-Scottish and I first came across them from Artists like Martin Carthy, Maddy Prior and Fairport Convention. I just love the way Anais Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer have covered these these songs. They are part of a growing American folk movement that goes back to British roots and does it so well. This is a very special and exquisite album.
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on 27 April 2013
There are so many songs in the Child Ballads repertoire that to sing them all would take nearly a lifetime. Here, Anais and Jefferson give us a snippet from that repertoire, but a great snippet, well sung. If you love original British folk songs, this is for you. I hope that this is just the first of many Child Ballads CDs.
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on 8 July 2013
This is a wonderful interpretation of old traditional folk songs, given a lyrical and melodic update courtesy of Anais Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer. The Child Ballads are a collection of old English and Scottish 'ballads' or traditional story-telling songs, many of which are quite well known and have been covered by a variety of artists over the years and the likes of which you will hear from time to time in folk clubs and festivals. These are only seven of the hundreds that exist but the CD serves as a great opener for this type of music and mood. The songs all deal with death, heartbreak and injustice - the stalwart themes of folk music! - but are composed and performed with such a dexterity and sensitivity that they take on a life of their own and stay with you for long after the notes have faded. I haven't been able to stop listening to it since getting it, my kids who are 14 and 10 are loving it and everyone i have played it to has loved it too.
Go buy this, it's awesome and contains some of the best harmony singing and playing I've heard in ages.
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on 9 October 2013
As a fan of english folk music I bought thisalbum with a little trepedation however my worries were dumbfounded after the eire Young man in America, this change of tack by Anais Mitchell was deeply rewarding the striped down music speaks for itself withthe deep joys of the ballads.
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on 21 November 2013
I think this is fantastic, refreshing, charming ......i'm a solid folk fan. Really love the versions of well known songs on this album. Why not have a new format for the classic versions by Nic Jones, Fairport et al? The close harmonies bring a beautiful melodic blend - there is a great interweave/tension between the two voice styles and there is a stripped down feel to the playing. Anais has more of a southern lilt than Vermont, but the accent and fragility reminds me of another favourite, Nancy Griffith. To me, there are hints of james taylor and others in the arrangements, and why not? - I totally disagree with the negative comments in some of the other reviews about the quality of the playing...to say that it isn't good is ..in my view....hey nonny nonny.... nonsense. If you are not sure....some of the songs are featured on a well known video site. So you can make your own mind up.
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on 17 May 2013
Anaïs never fails to deliver. Previous albums such as 'Young Man In America' and her masterpiece, the folk-opera 'Hadestown' have been valuable contributions to American music. Her voice, her guitar playing and her songwriting are all beautiful. - Now she has tackled 7 traditional folk songs from the UK, ballads collected by the folklorist Francis James Child, at the end of the nineteenth century. With the talented Jefferson Hamer, these familiar songs are re-worked and re-told, (as folk tales always were, surely?) and the end results are a joy. A great introduction to British folk songs, and also a great introduction to Anaïs Mitchell's work for anyone yet to discover it. She's fantastic.
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on 11 April 2013
Marvellous and mature interpretations of the old ballads from these young people. Anais has already shown her poetic imagination, genius for storytelling and melodic invention in her own compositions on her earlier releases- and such a sweet voice! Can't wait to see what she does next!
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on 2 March 2013
As previous reviews have said, this album breathes new life into some old classics which just goes to show that there is no such thing as a 'definitive version'. Surely folk music by its very name has always been a personal interpretation of well-loved classics and this version brings a fresh approach to some old friends. Having seen Anais and Jefferson this week in Guildford, I can certainly recommend the live concert - a beautiful and sensitive performance by both artists, interspersed with very personal insights into the songs and how the album came to be recorded. Go and see them if you can - you won't be disappointed.
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