Ask any songwriter working these days about Anaïs Mitchell’s songwriting and their eyes go starry.
Many go straight to the through-line emotional insight of her album, Young Man in America. Most will gush about the decade-or-more she spent writing a Tony-winning Broadway musical (Hadestown) steeped in some convergence of folk balladry, New Orleans second line, and ancient mythology—as though those three things are kissing cousins. Throw in her modernization of Francis James Child’s ballad collection. Her band Bonny Light Horseman. The small handful of albums where she was just straight-up singer-songwritering.
Her new eponymous album—her fifth solo effort—is a return to the latter and is packed with incredible, honest, emotionally stirring songwriting. On this episode of the Why We Write with Kim Ruehl podcast, we talk about all these things, alongside craft staples like form and rhyme scheme … and whether she plans to write something else for the stage.