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Anaïs Mitchell: Another Song Of The Week from my album of 2022

Updated: Jan 21

Neil Morton

We just had to see out the old year with an extra helping of Anaïs Mitchell. Our Song Of The Week at herecomesthesong.com is Morning Glory which glistens with hope. Mitchell has illuminated the year with her beguiling voice and storytelling charms.

The song, written before the pandemic as a love letter to her young daughter, is one of two bonus tracks on the recent deluxe edition of her self-titled eighth album released back in January which had felt too short. It’s my favourite album of 2022.


The buds of Morning Glory open to fluttering woodwind, breezily picked acoustic guitar and that gorgeously breathy vocal:


And the sun is comin’ out

It’s a new day

And it’s better than the one that came before

And it’s better than it was before you came

You’re the one I wake up for


Morning glory

How could I have known that I had grown so world-weary

Before you came along with your tender arms

I’d stretch in the trumpet of your mouth

And your eyes are dewy wet

And always on the lookout for the bright side of the world


The bewitching Bright Star, released as a single in 2021, and the growing pains of Little Big Girl were early Song Of The Week choices; Backroads, Revenant and Brooklyn Bridge, showcasing her melodic gift for surprise chord changes, could have joined them from an album that kept on giving.


Mitchell, whose solo career had taken a long break during the all-consuming success story of her Broadway musical Hadestown, was also busy with her folk trio project, Bonny Light Horseman, with Eric D Johnson and Josh Kaufman. Their Rolling Golden Holy would become another highlight of 2022. Kaufman had produced Mitchell’s first album in her own name since 2012; most of the material was written back home in rural Vermont where she sought sanctuary when Covid closed down New York and the rest of the world.


‘I’d been working on that musical for a third of my life and what did I do the moment I got done with it?’ she told the Guardian. ‘I spent a year writing a book about it!’ But then came the hiatus and the creation of new material. ‘In the tidy version of this album I left the city, I returned home, I became a mother of two, I did therapy and I wanted to make this album before I turned 40.’


Now, Mitchell said, ‘the speaker is all me, and the stories are mine. It’s always felt easier to take on the voice of another character or just dress up my own big feelings with language or a story that felt like it could be somebody else’s… I have a desire to make songs that walk through the world on their own legs – that are useful to other people. I’m interested in the intersection of what makes me want to cry and what feels mythical. That’s where I want to live.’

My song of the year is Allison Russell’s reimagining of her own composition You’re Not Alone, a soulful duet with her friend and champion Brandi Carlile. The original appeared on all-women supergroup Our Native Daughters’ debut album in 2019. Russell’s collaborations continue to delight – listen to her harmonies for Aoife O’Donovan on Prodigal Daughter and for Amy Ray on Tear It Down.


The powerful lyric in You’re Not Alone speaks to her daughter, stressing the message that during traumatic times we can gain hope from others, past and present. The song’s second coming was provoked by seismic events such as school shootings and the Supreme Court’s anti-abortion stance.


You’re the north star and the compass

Always finding something wondrous

Anywhere you go

You’re not alone


Russell’s fêted debut solo album Outside Child in 2021 dealt with her harrowing experiences as an abused youngster. ‘Every child deserves to be loved and protected,’ she declared. ‘Human Rights are worth fighting for. We’ve come a long way but we must go farther still… We are more than the sum of our scars.’ The outside child is an insider now, her music preaching and practising community in another year of memorable collaborations.


Here are my 30 favourite albums of the year, in no particular order and unranked beyond the exception of the Mitchell masterpiece. Recommended tracks appear in italics.


My 30 favourite albums of 2022

Anaïs Mitchell: Anaïs Mitchell

Little Big Girl


Bonny Light Horseman: Rolling Golden Holy

Summer Dream


First Aid Kit: Palomino

Angel


Maz O’Connor: What I Wanted

When It Comes For You


Joan Shelley: The Spur

When The Light Is Dying


Track Dogs: Where To Now?

She Sang Songs


Bonnie Raitt: Just Like That

Made Up Mind


Sunny War: Simple Syrup

No Reason


River Whyless: Monoflora

Heaven And Light


Tedeschi Trucks Band: I Am The Moon

Hold That Line

Gabriels: Angels & Queens – Part 1

Taboo


Margo Cilker: Pohorylle

Broken Arm In Oregon


Katie Spencer: The Edge Of The Land

Title track


Mavis Staples & Levon Helm: Carry Me Home

The Weight


Lady Maisery: Tender

Bird I Do Not Know


Lizzy Hardingham: How Did We Get Here?

I Could Have Loved You


Midlake: For The Sake Of Bethel Woods

Bethel Woods


Jake Blount: The New Faith

Once There Was No Sun


Plains (Waxahatchee/Jess Williamson): I Walked With You A Ways

Problem With It


Angeline Morrison: The Sorrow Songs (Folk Songs of Black British Experience)

Unknown African Boy (d.1830)

Gretchen Peters: The Show – Live From The UK

The Matador


Weyes Blood: And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow

It’s Not Just Me, It’s Everybody


Trampled By Turtles: Alpenglow

It’s So Hard To Hold On


Amy Ray: If It All Goes South

Tear It Down (featuring Allison Russell)


The Unthanks: Sorrows Away

Bay Of Fundy


Kate Ellis: Spirals

The Story You’ve Been Told


Madison Cunningham: Revealer

Life According To Raechel


Big Thief: Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You

Title track


Buddy Guy: The Blues Don’t Lie

Gunsmoke Blues (featuring Jason Isbell)


Dean Owens: The Sinner’s Shrine

The Hopeless Ghosts (featuring Grant-Lee Phillips)


Favourite cover albums & EPs

Josienne Clarke: Now And Then

You Shadow


Thea Gilmore: Was

Bones


Emily Barker & Lukas Drinkwater: Room 822

Under The Milky Way


Phil Shaw’s Top 30 Songs of 2022 plus his 10 favourite covers

 

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