Review Summary: Straightforward but full of passion, Anais’ latest effort is a gorgeous composition that shows she’s as capable as anyone making folk music today
Even though she’s not a household name, Anais Mitchell has been doing this for a while. Growing up on a farm in Addison County, Vermont, she began writing and performing songs in 1998 at the age of 17 and recorded her first album ‘The Song They Sang... When Rome Fell’ in a single afternoon in 2002. Her 2010 release ‘Hadestown’, a concept album dealing with the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, included collaborations from Ani DiFranco
, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver
and Ben Knox Miller of The Low Anthem
, amongst others.
Taking a step back from her foray into folk opera, Mitchell’s latest effort, 'Young Man in America’ is very organic and approachable. As a storyteller, she’s in top form, weaving in themes from rural America and drawing from her personal experience throughout the album. In the soft, contemplative opening tracks Wilderland
and Young Man in America
, she introduces the powerful imagery of fathers as the shepherds of their families and mothers as shelter. Father shepherd guides the young man throughout the LP, while mother shelter appears more rarely, but always to comfort and support.
“Nothing’s gonna stop me now”, she repeats in Coming Down
before continuing, “I think I’m coming down”. Powerfully bringing back down to earth any manic energy in the air and bringing emotions into a new serene and calm atmosphere, this song was covered by Bon Iver
on their recent tour. This track serves as the climax of the 1st half of the album and while strong as a standalone track fits perfectly into the context of the songs surrounding it.
Aside from Venus
, which sounds like a cheap take on The Grateful Dead
’s Sugar Magnolia
, the album is very consistent, with the rising Dying Day
and softer Tailor
showing opposite ends of an emotional spectrum only she seems capable of conveying. And reeling it all in are You are Forgiven
, which serve as the final bit of heat to melt hearts into a carefree bliss.
While I personally cannot relate to much of the rural imagery conveyed and am not enough of an authority on folk music to comment on particular styles she explores, this is an album that anyone can enjoy. Whether you’re trying to calm yourself down after a long day or simply want to admire the beautiful pipes of the lead singer, this LP will not disappoint.