“Grant-Lee Phillips spun cryptic tales out of America’s past and the murky corridors of the heart” – Chicago Reader
In a career defined by risk and reflection, Phillips only just recently took on the biggest gamble of his life…and with the wager comes The Narrows.
For practically all of his time on Earth, songwriter Grant-Lee Phillips has reconciled widescreen mystery and wonder with his own experiences from a fixed vantage point. Not that California is such a myopic perch: The state whose very name implies the promise of reinvention and potential wealth encompasses such varied terrain as Stockton (the hardscrabble port town of Phillips’ birth), the now-fleeting bohemia of San Francisco, and the sprawling industry capital that is Los Angeles – his home since age 19.
“Los Angeles is a desert,” he explains from the road in Oslo, Norway, “It’s a hard place to plant your roots and a harder place to pull ’em up after some thirty years.” In 2013, he did just that: The lifelong California resident transplanted himself and his family to landlocked Tennessee. Reasons why abound, but answers to the questions the relocation posed are still emerging. His last LP, Walking in the Green Corn was a resonant meditation on translating his own ancestral legacy into the present era. As he was listening to the past, he heard echoes of his own experience – and those of his descendants – rolling off the Tennessee hills. “It held the promise of a quieter life,” he says, “something resembling my own rural upbringing in the San Joaquin Valley. And the people of the mid-south reminded me of home – my dad being from Arkansas, my mom from Oklahoma. And the soundtrack of my boyhood was so often tethered to Nashville…”
“Mitchell is a skilled storyteller…and her delivery gives an emotional complexity that welcomes and even demands repeated listens.” Pitchfork
Anaïs Mitchell is a Vermont and Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter who comes from the world of narrative folksong, poetry and balladry. She recorded for Ani Difranco’s Righteous Babe Records for several years before starting her own Wilderland label in 2012. Among her recorded works are six full-length albums, including 2010’s sensationally-reviewed Hadestown, a folk opera based on the Orpheus myth; 2012’s Young Man in America, which was described by the UK’s Independent as ‘an epic tale of American becoming'; and 2013’s Child Ballads, a collaboration with Jefferson Hamer, which won a BBC Radio Two Folk Award for Best Traditional Track.
Mitchell has headlined shows worldwide as well as supporting tours for Bon Iver, Ani Difranco, The Low Anthem (all of whom appear as guest singers on Hadestown) Josh Ritter and Punch Brothers. Her stage production of Hadestown, which was ten years in the making, opened Off-Broadway in May 2016 to rave reviews. The New York Times called it “inventive, beguiling and spellbinding” while Vogue announced that “Hadestown will be your new theater obsession”. The show was extended twice as a result of critical success and sell-out performances.