Style: Eclectic mix of styles/sounds; compare to Greg Brown, Bon Iver, The Low Anthem
Top tracks: "Why We Build the Wall," Wait For Me," "Way Down Hadestown"
Anais Mitchell recruited quite a cast for this re-imagined Greek myth. Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver) sings as the poet Orpheus on a futile odyssey into the underworld to rescue wife Eurydice, personified by Mitchell's endearingly childlike voice (think The Weepies or Julie Miller). And there couldn't be a better Hades than Greg Brown, whose chill-inducing, infernal baritone nearly steals the show. Thematically, there's a strong current of social justice, some thoughts on temptations of the flesh, some striving for hope amid the doom. The tail end of this folk opera isn't as taut as the rest, but Hadestown is still the most fresh, affecting thing I've heard this year.1