Bonny Light Horseman is a coming-together of three of the most talented folk musicians and writers of the last few years - namely, Anaïs Mitchell (writer of Broadway hit ‘Hadestown’), Eric D. Johnson (Fruit Bats, The Shins) and Josh Kaufman (who's played with the National). A performance at last year’s Eaux Claires festival snowballed into a full album collaboration.
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Limited edition, indies only 'Blue Seaglass' coloured vinyl LP on 37b03b.
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I first listened to Anaïs Mitchell something like 10 years ago, when I happened to pick up her wonderful folk epic ‘Hadestown’. At first I found her piercing vocals a bit jarring, but I warmed to them, and it soon became a firm favourite. That album was structured like a musical (and indeed has gone onto become a very good), and so carried through it a strand of populism and accessibility.
Mitchell hasn’t rested on her laurels, and has continued producing music since then, though I’m not sure she’s done anything as interesting as ‘Bonny Light Horseman’. The group, which shares its name with the album is comprised of Mitchell, alongside Eric D. Johnson and Josh Kaufman. The trio make music as rich as the songs on ‘Hadestown’, but without that populist bent. Gone are the crowd pleasing choruses and rousing melodies.
Not that I doubted whether she could, but it really is interesting to her Mitchell apply her craft to something like ‘Magpie’s Nest’. The trio uses a pretty wide variety of instruments to create a warm atmosphere. This is not the sort of warmth that’s short and hot, rather it burns slowly, rewarding repeated listens. You’ll notice a bit of interplay between the guitars and the banjo, a subte bit of vocal harmony, a harmonica that disappears just as quickly as it appears.
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