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coverpic flag US - Vermont - Full Moon 174 - 11/21/10

Anaïs Mitchell
Righteous Babe

Anaïs Mitchell has written an ambitious folk opera about Orpheus and Eurydice, giving roles to people like Ani DiFranco (Persephone), Greg Brown (Hades), Justin Vernon (of Bon Iver, as Orpheus) and casting herself as Eurydice. The staggeringly affecting work takes Greek myth and casts it in the Depression era with rich, rewarding results.

"Way Down Hadestown" sees Mitchell as Eurydice arriving in the Underworld, and it's a moving song. The song is a Tom Waitsian whimsy and Ben Knox Miller (The Low Anthem) handles himself well as Hermes. "Hey, Little Songbird" sees Hades and Eurydice singing together, Brown's ragged vocals colliding with Mitchell's innocent coo in a dramatic fashion. "Wait For Me" sees Orpheus and Hermes singing about rescuing Eurydice, while anyone knows they won't succeed it's still a haunting moment. "Our Lady of the Underground" sees DiFranco as Persephone take centre stage, and she sings of enjoying her power. It's jazzy and sinuous, much to her advantage. "Flowers (Eurydice's Song)" is a nice showcase for Mitchell's sensuously affecting vocals. She's really outdone herself with this album, offering songs that seem to have lived as long as time itself, yet they sound as fresh as dew. It's a superlative work.

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