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Hadestown
     

Hadestown

4.2 7
by Anaïs Mitchell
 

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Singer and songwriter Anais Mitchell wrote the first draft of her "folk opera" Hadestown in 2006 with arranger Michael Chorney and director Ben T. Matchstick. After numerous drafts and performances, it is set in stone here. Hadestown retells the Orpheus and Eurydice myth set in an America of hard times economically, socially, and politically. (There is a

Overview

Singer and songwriter Anais Mitchell wrote the first draft of her "folk opera" Hadestown in 2006 with arranger Michael Chorney and director Ben T. Matchstick. After numerous drafts and performances, it is set in stone here. Hadestown retells the Orpheus and Eurydice myth set in an America of hard times economically, socially, and politically. (There is a hint of the great Depression as a setting, but only a hint.) The cast includes Mitchell as Eurydice, Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) as Orpheus, Ani DiFranco as Persephone, Greg Brown as Hades, Ben Knox Miller (The Low Anthem) as Hermes, and the Haden Triplets -- Petra, Rachel, and Tanya) as the Fates. The large band includes Rob Burger, Jim Black, Josh Roseman, Nate Wooley, Todd Sickafoose, Marika Hughes, and Tanya Kalmanovich, to name a few. Hadestown's narrative, like the myth, steeps itself in ambiguities more than dead certainties. It moves past dualities of good and evil, life and death, hope and despair, while examining how commonly held beliefs about class reinforce poverty, how our desire for security is complicit in giving away our freedoms, and what real generosity in love actually is. Nowhere is this more evident than a Brown showcase number, "Why We Build the Wall." (With the cast/chorus unintentionally answering Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" anthem that would make him weep with grief.) There isn't a weak track here, but high points include "Our Lady of the Underground," sung by DiFranco; the fierce, yet tender "How Long" with Brown and DiFranco; both parts of Vernon's "Epic," Mitchell's and Vernon's "Doubt Comes In," and "I Raise My Cup to Him," by Mitchell with DiFranco. Everything here is ambitious, nothing is excessive. The music ranges with classic American folk forms: country gospel, ragtime, blues, and early jazz, to approximations of rock, swing, and avant-garde -- all of it immediate, accessible, and inviting. Vernon's vocal range -- husky baritone to sweet falsetto -- does justice to Orpheus. Only a singer like this could write a song beautiful enough to rescue his lover from the Underworld. Mitchell doesn't make herself the star, but is nonetheless. She is convincing as Eurydice; her lyrics are poetic, and her melodies unpretentious, yet sophisticated thanks to Chorney's arrangements. This 57-minute work goes by in a flash. Artfully conceived, articulated, and produced, Hadestown raises Mitchell's creative bar exponentially: there isn't anything else remotely like it.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/09/2010
Label:
Righteous Babe
UPC:
0748731707026
catalogNumber:
70

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Anaïs Mitchell   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,cast
Ani DiFranco   cast
Mike Dillon   Vibes
Josh Roseman   Trombone
Rob Burger   Piano,Accordion
Marika Hughes   Cello
Michael Chorney   Acoustic Guitar,Prepared Guitar
Todd Sickafoose   Bass,Piano,Pump Organ
Brandon Seabrook   Electric Guitar,4-String Banjo
Tanya Kalmanovitch   Viola
Nate Wooley   Trumpet
Justin Vernon   cast
Haden Triplets   cast
Ben Knox Miller   cast
Rich Hinman   Pedal Steel Guitar
Jonathan Goldberger   Electric Guitar
Original Hadestown Cast   Choir, Chorus
Ben T. Matchstick   Harmonica,Voices

Technical Credits

Andy Taub   Engineer
Rich Breen   Engineer
Mike Napolitano   Engineer
Bennett Shapiro   Engineer
John Svec   Engineer
Michael Chorney   Arranger,Composer,Orchestration,Score
Traditional   Composer
Todd Sickafoose   Producer,Engineer,Instrument Arrangement
Brian Grunert   Art Direction
Anaïs Mitchell   Composer
Peter Nevins   Illustrations
Justin Vernon   Engineer

Customer Reviews

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Hadestown 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of the most involving CD's I've listened to. You just have to pay attention to every word, especially "Why We Build the Wall". I find myself singing songs from "Hadestown" all the time for no apparent reason except that the music stays in my brain and the words are totally thought provoking. Not only does this folk opera retell the Orpheus and Eurydice story and stay true to the legend, it can be related to today's world and all the stresses we are subjected to on a daily basis. All and all, Hadestown is PERFECT. Great music, beautiful voices, intelligent lyrics. What more can one ask for in a CD?
Mr.Bezuk More than 1 year ago
I am a long time fan of Ani DiFranco and an even longer time fan of Greg Brown so I had to give this a try. Not at all what I was expecting but that can be a good thing. This is a complex and creative theme album that will require many more listens before I have a full understanding of the work. I am impressed by the independent feeling of the work and the imagery that it conveys is dark yet hopeful. This album needs to be listened to in its entirety and is most certainly not back-ground music. It has an old folkie like me on my toes.
Colorado_Magpie More than 1 year ago
This is an interesting take on the Orpheus myth - a playfull rendering put to music, mostly in a folksy style. Some of the voices are a bit weak, but I love Greg Brown's voice. My main objection is the victim attitude of "We poor people are poor because we're being oppressed by the evil rich people." It's a bit too much of passe, self-defeating adolescent whining that gets a little old.
Molly3 More than 1 year ago
I took a chance on this one. I didn't know of Anais Mitchell before buying the CD, but I liked the song clips in the store. I was not disappointed after listening to the whole thing. The overall vibe is laid back and folksy, with hints of ragtime, jazz, and country thrown in. There are lots of familiar guests, including Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Petra Haden, and Ani DiFranco. It's a fun, pleasing listen.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago