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Anais Mitchell | Music Review

Yankee Plus Dec 2015


Anais Mitchell | Music Review
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Anais Mitchell
Photo/Art by Emma Gluckman
Anais Mitchell

Anais Mitchell is possibly the most beguiling farmer’s daughter in Vermont. Her father has raised sheep and taught English at Middlebury College since the ’80s, so she was brought up loving both land and letters.

As a teen she found her voice in folk music and has since made a career crafting perfect poems that, with subtle wordplay and vibrant symbolism, capture the stories of migrant workers and lovelorn farmers. Mitchell’s voice–coy and probing–adds a layer of unexpected heartbreak to these tales. “Every song is a tiny world unto itself,” she explains, “each with a tiny climax.”

Her latest project is an attempt to expand her stories further. Dubbed Hadestown, it’s a folk opera based on the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, set in a futuristic Depression-era-type factory town. (The CD will be released this winter on Righteous Babe Records.)

The myth, in which Orpheus descends into the underworld to sing his love back to life, is fertile ground for Mitchell’s moody and plaintive songwriting.

“Orpheus believes so hard that if he can just make something beautiful enough, maybe he could get through to someone, maybe he could move the heart of stone,” she says. “I think that that kind of crazy optimism is something a lot of us experience.”

For a performance schedule and audio clips, go to:

READ MORE: Anais Mitchell: The Brightness

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Justin Shatwell


Justin Shatwell


Justin Shatwell is a longtime contributor to Yankee Magazine whose work explores the unique history, culture, and art that sets New England apart from the rest of the world. His article, The Memory Keeper (March/April 2011 issue), was named a finalist for profile of the year by the City and Regional Magazine Association.

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