Hadestown

( 6 )

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
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, ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
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.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/9/2010
  • Label: Righteous Babe
  • UPC: 748731707026
  • Catalog Number: 70
  • Sales rank: 33,640

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
The Haden Triplets cast
Ben Knox Miller cast
Rich Hinman Pedal Steel Guitar
Jonathan Goldberger Electric Guitar
The Original Hadestown Cast Choir, Chorus
Ben T. Matchstick Harmonica, Voices
Technical Credits
Alan Douches Mastering
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
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 6 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(3)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    An interesting piece

    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.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Cool CD

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Incredible folk opera based on Orpheus legend

    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?

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    I am having such a good time trying to get my mind around this.

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews