Anaïs Mitchell has lived the role of traveling minstrel already at only 25. From her Vermont roots in farming country to Europe and Africa, Mitchell has already got miles behind her. Originally she planned to be a writer because: "Not unlike artists, they're always traveling, always writing, loving their loneliness, feeling that they have their finger on the pulse -- worshiping the truth and trying to render it legible."
After debuting in 2002 with The Song They Sang When Rome Fell Mitchell became known and loved in the folk community. She also released Hymns for the Exiled on Waterbug and returns with 2006's The Brightness. The album's title is derived from the jazzy folk tune On a Friday Night, in the lines "out in the brightness of a Friday night." On tracks like Namesake, Mitchell resembles Lisa Loeb in her vocal style. Lyrically her songs celebrate that loneliness she describes loving. Hammond organ and baritone sax contribute to the somber air. Shenandoah evokes a traditional mountain gospel hymn. Then there's the urgent, driving melody of Song of the Magi. The song is told through the eyes of the three wise men on their way to see the nativity. Anaïs shows off her musical prowess in the almost classical intro to Santa Fe Dream, then switches to operatic form for Hades and Persephone, a dialogue in song between the title characters concerning Orpheus. This piece is an unsettling rumination on love and mortality. Throughout the album, Mitchell shows she is both musically and lyrically adept. For fans of good writing and understated modern folk, this is one to hear.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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