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Anais Mitchell - Hymns for the Exiled

  by Benjamin Howarth

published: 7 / 6 / 2008

Anais Mitchell - Hymns for the Exiled
Label: Righteous Babe
Format: CD


Intelligent and original gorgeous acoustic folk-pop on new album from American singer-songwriter Anais Mitchell, who releases her records on Righteous Babe Records, the label owned by singer Ani DiFranco, and whose records have a similar uncompromising power

Anais Mitchell releases her records on Righteous Babe records, the label owned by prolific and uncompromising folk singer Ani DiFranco, and fans of one would surely like the other. In his quite exceptional book '31 Songs', (which I’ve been re-reading on the tube this week), Nick Hornby comments on DiFranco thus - “On most of her albums, Ani prefers to rant and rap - and more power to her - but it seems a little perverse given how few people are capable of writing songs like 'You Had Time'”. And yet, with Anais Mitchell, her label has found one of those few people, and she delivers the kind of gorgeous acoustic music only those with the rare talent enjoyed by DiFranco can do well. Mitchell could have recorded in any of the last five decades. Her fingerpicked acoustic is rarely accompanied by anything more than an echo, but there are some moments when she reminds me more of Kate Bush and Bjork than Joni Mitchell (lazy references, I concede, but you know what I mean…) And the occasional embellishments of violin, bass and backing vocals stop her songs from becoming too alike. Yet, Mitchell’s music is certainly not wishy-washy. It begins with the line "I can tell you stories, like the government tells lies", and the sleeve features citations for the poems, articles, songs and religious material that inspired the songs. In that sense, it has the same literate, challenging qualities as DiFranco, and both dress these ideas in deceptively simple acoustic folk-pop. ‘Hymns For The Exiled’ is exactly what I hoped it would be. Pleasant enough to calm you down after a long day, but intelligent and original enough to make the thirty five minutes it runs for feel like time well spent.

Track Listing:-
1 Before the Eyes of Storytelling Girls
2 1984
3 Cosmic American
4 The Belly and the Beast
5 Orion
6 Mockingbird
7 I Wear Your Dress
8 Quecreek Flood
9 A Hymn for the Exiled
10 Two Kids
11 One Good Thing

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Interview (2009)
Anais Mitchell - Interview
At a gig in Newcastle on their recent European tour, Jonjo McNeill speaks to singer Yuke Chikudate and guitarist James Hanna from New York shoegazers Asobi Seksu about touring, songwriting and their just released third alabum, 'Hush'
Interview (2009)

live reviews

Union Chapel, London, 25/1/2011
Anais Mitchell - Union Chapel, London, 25/1/2011
Ben Howarth at the Union Chapel in London watches American singer-songwriter Anais Mitchell, with an extensive set of guest musicians including both Thea Gilmore and Jackie Leven, reenact her concept album, 'Hadestown', to standing ovation and hypnotic effect
12 Bar Club, London, 24/5/2010
Luminaire, London, 25/1/2010
Luminaire, London, 21/1/2009

digital downloads



Anais Mitchell (2022)
Thoughtful and warm first studio album in ten years for indie folk musician Anais Mitchell who has been focusing on her alternative career writing Broadway musicals.
Young Man in America (2012)
Hadestown (2010)

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