Anais Mitchell, Young Man in America

Mike Wolf

By Mike Wolf

on 02.23.12 in Reviews
Confident, moonlit folk songs

Anaïs Mitchell is a writer whose medium happens to be music. As a musician, though, her writerly achievements are undeniable: Her previous effort, 2010′s Hadestown, reconceived the myth of Orpheus, coming to life first as a touring theater production and then as a 20-track album. On the follow-up (which also launches her own label), Mitchell avoids trying to top it and simply turns in 11 confident, moonlit folk songs that hang together as a loose narrative concerning the dire state of the world, especially for those younger people who might have been more optimistic in another time. “Nothing’s gonna stop me now,” she sings repeatedly in “Coming Down,” with hope replaced by weariness. Mitchell’s voice is high and nasal, and it’s to her and producer Todd Sickafoose’s credit that the varied arrangements, which can evoke naturalistic scenes much like in Laura Veirs’s music, are so complementary (especially on the dramatic one-two punch of the opening songs, “Wilderland” and the title track).