A couple of days ago I stumbled across an album called Hadestown by a singer songwriter named Anais Mitchell. I hadn’t come across her before but was looking for a new album with a story/concept album like The Hazards of Love by the Decemberists, and after a light spot of googling I came across Hadestown and had to buy it immediately.
The album is a soundtrack of sorts to a retelling of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, but set in Depression-era New Orleans. Orpheus is the dreamer musician who thinks he only has to sing to pay the bills, where as his new wife Eurydice is a little more practical. They are poor and she is desperate, and becomes infatuated with the kingpin Hades, who seduces her with his promises of a better life and whiskes her away to Hadestown, where Orpheus must follow to rescue her.
It’s a brilliant re-working of the story and the music, like its New Orleans setting, is a wonderful mix of jazz, blues, bluegrass. And it features accordions and blues-harmonica, so I’m sold! I highly recommend you check it out. It’s not available to listen to on spotify but some tracks are uploaded on youtube (inclucing some great live versions), and it’s available to buy on iTunes.
Whilst listening to it I found myself imagining a band of demons playing the songs (in the vein of The Devil Went Down to Georgia) and it felt so apt as Halloween approaches, that I had to draw something.
This image is based on the song Our Lady of the Underground, where Persephone (Hades’ wife) sympathises with the inhabitants of Hadestown and offers them a glimpse of stars, wind, rain, spring flowers – all at a price, of course. For some reason I imagined her as a sort of sashaying nightclub singer, with her zombie band, and this is the result:
And finally here’s the song it was based on: