Album review: Anaïs Mitchell & Jefferson Hamer, Child Ballads (Wilderland)

 

The folk songs collated in the 19th century by Sir Francis James Child are the taproot of transcontinental folk culture: a treasure-house of tales for performers from Martin Carthy to Bob Dylan, and a more recent influence on nu-folkies like The Decemberists.

Anaïs Mitchell here teams up with singer/guitarist Jefferson Hamer for interpretations of seven Child ballads, their sleek but salty harmonies borne on warm, hypnotic arrangements of guitar, accordion, pump organ and fiddle. It's a deeply satisfying album, steeped in mystery and enchantment.

Download: Willie of Winsbury; Sir Patrick Spens; Riddles Wisely Expounded; Tam Lin

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