Anais Mitchell
Hadestown


5.0
classic

Review

by EndSerenading USER (3 Reviews)
July 3rd, 2010 | 15 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A Stunning Folk-Opera Masterpiece

2010 has been somewhat of a middling year in music. There have certainly been a number of strong releases from many indie bands, and even some from more mainstream acts, yet for the most part they have just been a continuation of current trends without bringing anything new to the table, and the music world is in need of a new masterpiece.

Hadestown is that masterpiece.

If an alien landed on earth and wanted to know what a concept album was, this is what you would show them. The album centers around the ancient myth of Orpheus, which may seem like a hokey basis for a concept album, but it actually shines brightly with tangible senses of love and loss, and you can sense the dramatic tension between the characters. You begin to feel what the characters feel, and you can always follow the story without feeling forced to.

This feels fresh among concept albums because you never lose track of the story. It is based on a well known myth, but you still get the sense of hearing these tunes around a campfire, making this a stark contrast to the over the top bombast of the Mars Voltas and Coheed and Cambrias of the world. This overall makes it a refreshing listen, enjoying a story without having to take notes to keep track of what exactly is happening.

Of course, a concept album is nothing without tunes, and this album has excellent songs in spades. You could put this album on your iPod on shuffle, and the tunes would all be consistently excellent listens, yet they never sound repetitive. Old-time folk and ragtime, folk-rock, indie, blues, all populate this album, all the songs perfectly arranged to suit the tone of that part of the album. Horns, strings, piano, and other instruments serve not to embellish, but rather enrich the stellar songs.

The highlight of almost all the songs is the passionate vocal performances from a diverse cast. Anais Mitchell has a voice that recalls a more controlled Joanna Newsom, a voice that flows perfectly with her collaborations with Justin Vernon, better known as Bon Iver. Vernon's appearance on the album will be the main attraction for many people, and his vocals here are even stronger than on For Emma, Forever Ago. He sounds possessed, with his vulnerable falsetto showing fangs and yet also becoming even more vulnerable. Veteran folkies Ani DiFranco and Greg Brown provide a foil to these youthful voices, yet neither of them are out of place, with there voices merely joining in the chorus that is Hadestown.

The entire album is highly recommended to fans of folk an indie, yet somehow it transcends any real classification. The album sounds remarkably fresh even after repeated listens, as there is simply nothing else quite like it. The only other album in recent memory that compares is Arcade Fire's Funeral, an album with a similarly ambitious scope, and passionate, emotional songs with rich and varied instrumentation. It feels modern yet also old-timey, new yet also classic, extremely ambitious yet not overreaching, this album will hopefully be remembered as the finest album of 2010.


user ratings (56)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
kitsch
July 3rd 2010


5107 Comments


doubtful

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
July 3rd 2010


3768 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Not a 5, but good on ya for reviewing this.

armfarm
July 3rd 2010


576 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this album is very very great. not a 5 for me, but good on you.

tombits
July 4th 2010


3470 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Fabulous album, and a good first review.

BlueW
July 5th 2010


2095 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Pretty damn good but not 5.
More of a high 4.5

lobby
August 26th 2010


1251 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

^what?

i'm really liking this...

lobby
September 17th 2010


1251 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

WE BUILD THE WALL TO KEEP US FREE, THAT'S WHY WE BUILD THE WALL, WE BUILD THE WALL, TO KEEP US FREE

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
September 17th 2010


15044 Comments


someone told me this was insanely good

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
December 23rd 2010


15044 Comments


edit: fantastic stuff. has a slightly ridiculous but irresistible sprawl to it--lots of effort and
faith was put into this, and it comes back tenfold.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
December 30th 2010


15044 Comments


REALLY good, guys

lobby
December 30th 2010


1251 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah, for sure, really solid release

RiversCuomo
December 31st 2010


439 Comments


Is it pronounced Anus?

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
December 31st 2010


3768 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Ah-na-ee-s

tombits
January 1st 2011


3470 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

an-eye-ees?

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
January 1st 2011


15044 Comments


ive been saying "ah-nice", woops



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