Anais Mitchell – Young Man in America
I am currently listening to the album ‘Young Man in America’ by Anais Mitchell the Vermont born singer songwriter who gained something of a cult following with her previous release, the folk-opera, ‘Hadestown’.
First, I will get out of the way the subject of her voice which is fairly unique but to my ears falls somewhere between Joanna Newsom and Laura Viers with shades of Rickie Lee Jones. I admit that her voice will not be to everyone’s taste BUT I implore you to stick with it. Believe me when I say that this album is something quite special. Despite the almost child like quality of the voice, the songs deal with real life issues in ways that could not be less whimsical or sentimental.
The music is subtle, the accompaniment tasteful and the words are thought provoking and compelling. Themes recur throughout the songs particularly references to the mother as a shelterer and the father as a shepherd. The relationship between parents and children features heavily throughout and the track ‘Shepherd’ is actually based upon a novel written as a young man by her own father, Don Mitchell. a picture of whom appears on the album cover.
Credit should go to producer and bassist Todd Sickafoose and the collected musicians who perform on this album. Each listen reveals something fresh whether it be the subtly chiming bells on the title track, the open trumpet backed by spiky electric guitar on ‘You Are Forgiven’, or the sublime mandolin on ‘Dyin’ Day’. On such a strong album it’s impossible to name stand out tracks but if forced I’ll stick my neck out and suggest the title track and the album closer, ‘Ships’.
Musically the closest comparison I can make is the aforementioned Laura Viers especially on ‘Dyin’ Day’ which reminds me of Viers circa ‘Carbon Glacier’. However, forget comparisons. Anais Mitchell has come up with a unique and wonderful album. I am not yet familiar with her earlier work but I will be delving into her back catalogue very soon. Also my sources tell me that next month she will be performing live in the intimate setting of The Cluny 2 just outside Newcastle upon Tyne. I intend to be there.
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