Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 5:49 pm
Her voice is soft and sweet, her guitar work deft and evocative, but Anaïs Mitchell is a songwriting storyteller first and foremost. Robbed of a gift for melody and poetry, Mitchell would probably (and may yet) write some tremendous novels. Her ambitious recent discography bears out that notion: The 2010 album version of her star-packed folk opera Hadestown recasts Greek legend in America, while this year's Young Man in America turns her thoughts to the pitfalls of modern life, inspired in part by the works of Mitchell's writer father.
Thankfully, as this Tiny Desk Concert in the NPR Music offices demonstrates, Mitchell possesses a warm and ingratiating style to go with her evocative, impeccably crafted lyrics. Singing and playing alongside guitarist and longtime collaborator Michael Chorney, she performs three of Young Man in America's most bracingly beautiful songs with clear-eyed directness that requires no adornment.
Producer: Bob Boilen; Editor: Denise DeBelius; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Denise DeBelius, Mito Habe-Evans, Christopher Parks; photo by Lauren Rock/NPR