7 Songs, 39 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Before recording Young Man in America, Anaïs Mitchell took a deep interest in mining traditional folk music. After buying the songbook Francis J. Child Collection of Ballads, Mitchell was moved by the lyrics' purity. She picked seven of the book’s 305 ballads and recorded them with collaborator and friend Jefferson Hamer. To help mix in a resonance of authenticity, she enlisted Nashville’s Gary Paczosa (Dolly Parton, Alison Krauss) to produce this 2013 EP, Child Ballads. It opens with the book’s 100th song, “Willie of Winsbury (Child 100),” where Mitchell and Hammer sing intensely close harmonies trimmed with an arrangement of two acoustic guitars, while Brittany Haas’ delicate fiddle parts serve as a reminder that this is an age-old Scottish song. In “Willie's Lady (Child 6),” the duo’s more rapid phrasing tells the story of a man who married against his mother’s wishes, so she curses his bride to never bear them a child. The standout song “Riddles Wisely Expounded (Child 1)” harks back to 1450. The intimacy of these recordings comes from the duo playing simultaneously without studio headphones.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Before recording Young Man in America, Anaïs Mitchell took a deep interest in mining traditional folk music. After buying the songbook Francis J. Child Collection of Ballads, Mitchell was moved by the lyrics' purity. She picked seven of the book’s 305 ballads and recorded them with collaborator and friend Jefferson Hamer. To help mix in a resonance of authenticity, she enlisted Nashville’s Gary Paczosa (Dolly Parton, Alison Krauss) to produce this 2013 EP, Child Ballads. It opens with the book’s 100th song, “Willie of Winsbury (Child 100),” where Mitchell and Hammer sing intensely close harmonies trimmed with an arrangement of two acoustic guitars, while Brittany Haas’ delicate fiddle parts serve as a reminder that this is an age-old Scottish song. In “Willie's Lady (Child 6),” the duo’s more rapid phrasing tells the story of a man who married against his mother’s wishes, so she curses his bride to never bear them a child. The standout song “Riddles Wisely Expounded (Child 1)” harks back to 1450. The intimacy of these recordings comes from the duo playing simultaneously without studio headphones.

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