Anais Mitchell The Brightness

Ani DiFranco has taken this young Vermont folkie under her wing and into the Righteous Babe family for the release of her third album, The Brightness. Perhaps influenced by DiFranco’s unique, intense vocal technique, Mitchell’s child-like singing has become more stylised, occasionally taking on a gasp-y, strained quality. The instrumentation, on the other hand, has improved since her 2004 disc, Hymns For The Exiled. With the assistance of a stable of talented acoustic musicians, Mitchell’s music has gained in subtlety and gracefulness what her vocals have lost. Despite the distracting voice work, Mitchell’s compositions are undeniably lovely. They offer few obvious melodic hooks but drag listeners in with a fiery earnestness that demands notice. Mitchell’s press materials make much of her extensive travel experiences, but it seems a couple of years spent at home honing her sound would mellow her voice and result in a more mature, perhaps truly exceptional, fourth disc. (Righteous Babe)