2013 release, a collaboration between singer/songwriter Ana‹s Mitchell and fellow musician Jefferson Hamer. On Child Ballads, the two co-arranged old Folk ballads from the Francis James Child collection. The duo picked seven of the 305 ballads compiled by Child and recorded the album in early 2012 with Nashville producer Gary Paczosa (known for his work with Alison Krauss and Dolly Parton).
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This work of art is a true duet between Mitchell and Hamer, sometimes trading lead vocals, always harmonizing their voices and guitars. If you've been a listener of the British folksingers and bands of yore, you'll have heard some of these songs. Appropriately, the liner notes single out some of the 20th century interpreters of the Child Ballads. If you're a fan of Sandy Denny, John Renbourn, Pentangle, Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, Anne Briggs, and others named in the notes, you'll find the interpretations on this album to be utterly absorbing and beautiful. The focus is on the singing of the ballads themselves, mysterious and often otherworldly, but the spare accompaniment of guitars, with occasional violin and accordion are perfect additions.
I first heard Anaïs Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer's version of Tam Lin on a YouTube video while searching for the Fairport Convention version with which I was familiar. I was first surprised at how different the lyrics and melody were in this version, which tells the same general story. Old songs can be that way. After I got over that surprise, I was stunned by the interwoven harmonies and intricate guitar work of these two troubadours, Mitchell's thin and plaintive soprano over Hamer's supportive tenor. Filigree over framework. Their acoustic guitars deepened the complexity of the counterpoint until the song was moving in four directions at once, fugue-like, in its stately and beautiful expression of the old classic song. I could have sworn I was hearing a fifth voice in there, but it was only a phantom harmony, the sound their music was making in my head. I was hooked. This is a beautiful album of old ballads that carries forward the tradition of such bands as the above mentioned...
I just encountered Anais Mitchell on Prairie Home Companion last Saturday and she's my new obsession. I love her voice but just as much I love the spirit she brings to her music. Here she does Old English folk songs - not her primary style, which is American singer/songwriter folkie - but this is the music I love most. It's a lovely album, with songs that are familiar within the genre, but she uses less familiar tunes and lyrics for them. That's exciting! Each song is spellbinding. What a discovery!
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