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Young Man In America

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iTunes Review

With a photograph of her father, Don Mitchell, gracing the cover of her fourth studio album and recurring lyrical narratives about the relationships between children and parents, it would seem that Anais Mitchell’s Young Man in America is veering into concept-album territory. The opening “Wilderland” starts with scratchy stringed instruments before trudging rhythms and hard-strummed guitars usher in what feels like the beginning of a storm. Mitchell’s spirited voice sings self-harmonies in haunting minor chords, as her lyrics describe how a mother must shelter her children while a father must shepherd them, because urban sprawls have become the new wilderness. This bleeds into the title track: a modern folk-rocker wrought with autobiographical lyrics of a hardscrabble upbringing punctuated by rootsy instruments and a lazy horn section. Though she’s garnered many comparisons to Ani DiFranco, here Mitchell's higher timbre inflects more like Victoria Williams, especially in the lilting “He Did” and in the moving “Shepherd,” based on a novel that her father wrote in his youth entitled The Souls of Lambs.

Customer Reviews

Young Man

Anais has yet again written gorgeous, artistic, beautiful, and creative songs. The lyrics on this album are fantastic and the concept is awesome, but it's a little overproduced for me. I prefer her live versions of these songs (probably because I saw them all first in concert). On this album the songs are sped up and there are a lot of background vocals and additional instruments (drums, accordion, piano, bass, etc) . Overall, I would definitely purchase it, it's a great record, but try to see Anais live, because she's incredible.

A Beautiful Evolution

Simply stunning. With the care and gentle, intelligent lyricism of her first two releases, and instilled with the vigor and complexity of Hadestown, Young Man in America is absolutely a must-have album from 2012.

Beauty in an ugly industry.

The latest effort of Anais Mitchell is just that. A beauty. I will admit i was already a fan of Mitchell's before Young Man...this release just solidifies my role as a huge fan of Ms Mitchell's work. From the opening bar of the first track, Wilderland to the last note of Ships, i am taken on a journey through the history of America and those that have inhabited. With Mitchell, it's not just the narrative of her exquisite lyrics, the control and emotion in her girly-toned voice, or even the amazing musicianship and production, but the integration of all of the above that make this record so special. I will be listening to this record for a long time to come on repeat...picking a few tracks as favorites seems almost silly because each track is a gem, but if I had to choose my top 5, here they are:

1. Shepherd: This tale of regret, about a shepherd and the loss of his wife in labor hits me with feelings of loss every time i hear it. It has been on repeat on my playlist since its release two weeks before the album was released. This song pulls at your heart in its simplicity.
2. Coming Down: This is track hits me from a strictly emotional level. Not many lyrics to interpret, but the few words sung bring a feeling of longing, nostalgia, regret, and hope. Mitchell's voice over the soft and simple piano line opens this track until the magical moment when the guitar sneaks in with a few horns. A poignant moment in this 11 track journey.
3. Young Man In America: The second track of this record has a dark fierceness to it. From the first line to the last, a picture of the waving fields of the prairie and small prairie towns in the west fill my head. I cannot help but let this one take over my body.
4. Tailor: This is a song of self-worth, of a woman finding herself outside of the view of a man...on her own now. Who am I? she asks in the end. Well, to me, in the end, the lyrics suggest she can be whoever she wants to be.
5. He Did: Once the groove of this track sets in for me at the 45 second mark i am entranced. I'm not even sure what it is about this track that gets me yet, but it does.

Here's to Anais Mitchell. Cheers for making a record that i will always find myself coming back to...i can already tell. It has had that effect on me already. I hope you give it a chance to effect you as well...


Born: Vermont

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Heavily influenced by the confessional alternative folk stylings of Ani DiFranco, Anaïs Mitchell began writing songs when she was 17. Born in Vermont, she attended Middlebury College and traveled throughout the Middle East, Latin America, and Europe studying global politics before alighting in Austin, TX, in the early 2000s. She released her first album, The Song They Sang When Rome Fell, in 2002. Mitchell performed at the Kerrville Folk Festival the following year, where she was awarded with the...
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Young Man In America, Anaïs Mitchell
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