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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Trip to Hell Took Me to Heaven, 20 Oct. 2010
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This review is from: Hadestown (Audio CD)
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. It is, for me, in a year of disappointments (when my expected big hitters are either doing covers or going all synth-pop) one of my favourite albums of the year, by many a mile. Even if you find Anais Mitchell not to your taste, you owe it to your music collection, not to mention your faith in music, to buy this album.
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Location: London, London United Kingdom

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