When: 7.30pm on Saturday 2 June 2012
Where: The Ruby Lounge, 28-34 High Street, Manchester M4 1QB
We’re excited to be bringing Anaïs Mitchell to Manchester for the first time, with her Young Man Band.
In case you haven’t met her, Anaïs Mitchell is not a man. She’s a woman, quick to laugh and to cry, a fan of Jane Austen and miniskirts. She came of age reading the diaries of Anaïs Nin and blasting early Ani Difranco records. So it may catch a few listeners off-guard when Mitchell cries out, in the opening sequence of Young Man In America, her latest album, ‘I’m a young man!’ And it may come as a surprise when, over the course of eleven songs, she seems to be channeling spirits from the Old Testament to modern America—but mostly, well, from the Y chromosome.
Taking on voices other than her own is not exactly new for Mitchell. In 2010 Righteous Babe Records released the recorded version of her folk opera Hadestown, a modern retelling of the Orpheus myth, featuring guest singers Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Ani Difranco and Greg Brown. The album became something of a critical phenomenon in the UK, making ‘Best of 2010’ lists in the Guardian, Sunday Times and Observer, thanks in part to the skillful production of Todd Sickafoose, who also produced and arranged Young Man.
Young Man is not an opera, but it is a story: a sprawling tale with multiple protagonists. And while Mitchell delivers the lead vocals herself this time around, she’s joined by a tribe of musicians that make the album feel like a collective ritual. Sickafoose assembled some of Brooklyn’s most sought-after rock and experimental jazz players: guitarist Adam Levy and violinist Jenny Scheinman, to name a couple. Chris Thile shows up on mandolin as well as alongside songwriters Jefferson Hamer and Rachel Ries in a harmonic chorus. Michael Chorney, the man behind Hadestown’s remarkable score and the producer of Mitchell’s two previous albums (2007’s The Brightness and 2004’s Hymns for the Exiled) makes a guest appearance on guitar. And in a departure from those early recordings, Young Man features not one but two stick-wielding drummer/percussionists—Andrew Borger and Kenny Wollesen—that give the album some of its swagger.
If there’s a common thread in Mitchell’s work—from her earliest ballads, to the opera, to this new chapter—it’s that she’s as interested in the world around her as the one inside her. She has a way of tackling big themes with the same emotional intimacy most artists use to describe their inner lives. ‘That’s why,’ as one journalist put it, ‘there’s a sexual ambiguity about her work and why, even in her most intimate moments, she never sounds like a confessional songwriter.’ It doesn’t matter whether the stories she tells are her own or someone else’s. ‘The emotions are my own,’ says Mitchell.
‘This is music of rare boldness and reach. A sensational album’ – CD of the Week, Sunday Times
Support comes Leeds-based Sam Airey. Raised in rural North Wales on various types of folk and country music, Sam blends these influences with the sounds and experiences he has encountered along the way. He plays a variety of instruments, but is sometimes joined by friends, both in studios and on stages. Gaining an ever-increasing amount of plaudits, his live performances have garnered comparisons to such notable songsmiths as Nick Drake, Conor Oberst and Leonard Cohen.
This show is a co-promotion with Ceremony Concerts.