Facebook R&B crooner Mario has been relatively quiet on the music front for…
- Posted on Mar 1st 2010 3:00PM by Laura Leebove
She enlisted Bon Iver's Justin Vernon as the voice of Orpheus and the Low Anthem's Ben Knox Miller as the messenger Hermes, while more seasoned folkies Greg Brown and Ani DiFranco take on Hades and his wife Persephone.
Mitchell says she doesn't have a strong background in Greek mythology but as a musician, Orpheus is especially inspiring. "He's the ultimate songwriter and he believes that if he can write a beautiful enough song he can do the impossible," she tells Spinner. "He can make the walls come down, he can win back his love and change the world."
She also loves the idea that the character has different voices in various registers and frequencies, which made Vernon a perfect fit for the role. Of Vernon's vocal style, Mitchell says, "There's something very manly and sexy about his really low voices, and so emotional and ethereal about his high voices and the combination of the two of them is sort of an Orpheus sound to me: this manly, sort of sensual thing but also totally emotional and sensitive."
The record's 20 tracks incorporate all the guest musicians' own styles: The DiFranco-led 'Our Lady of the Underground' has a vibraphone-driven jazz feel, 'Way Down Hadestown' begins with Miller's hoarse shout and Vernon's solos throughout the set use the singer's soft, layered falsetto croons.
"People brought a lot of their own personality and also their own melodic sensibility. Everyone sings differently and it was really great that everyone sort of made the songs their own," Mitchell says. "If I were to write out the score of the vocal line, it would not be what you hear on the record. But in exchange for that we got all the soul of the people that got involved."
'Hadestown' is set in an industrial, impoverished town that Mitchell describes as "a world of wealth and security. It's a world where people sacrifice their freedom and they sacrifice their aliveness for stability." The story isn't meant for a certain time period, but it's definitely a nod to Depression-era America. "In terms of the imagery that went into the lyrics, as well as the kinds of visuals that ended up in the stage show, we really wanted to refer a lot to that era -- that sort of dirty, gritty, industrial era," she says. "Poetically, those images of the trains, the walls and the mine and that kind of imagery really resonated as a way to tell the story, but it's not supposed to be a historically accurate thing."
As for a live performance with this impressive cast, Mitchell says it's "just kind of a dream" for now, but she surely won't be the only one hoping it's in the cards down the line.