Bonny Light Horseman – Bonny Light Horseman

Album Review | 37d03d | Review by Allan Wilkinson

I’m convinced that the American singer songwriter Anaïs Mitchell can do no wrong, a notion I first adopted after Young Man in America followed Hadestown back in 2012. Since then I’ve had the pleasure to have seen her perform a number of times, chat to her during Nic Jones’ set at the Cambridge Folk Festival and then marvel at the fact that her Hadestown folk opera claimed eight of the fourteen Tony Awards it was nominated for and I still haven’t mentioned the Child Ballads collaboration album with Jefferson Hamer back in 2013. We’re fortunate to live in these times.

Named after the traditional English folk song Bonny Light Horseman, Anaïs joins Fruit Bats leading light Eric D Johnson and guitarist Josh Kaufman for a fine ‘supergroup’ collaboration, which in turn is both the title of the album and opening song. After Child Ballads, there was little doubt that Anaïs was more than capable of delivering convincing modern renditions of the folk canon and Bonny Light Horseman further demonstrates this understanding, through her passion for the songs and Eric and Josh’s complete empathy. Both Anaïs and Eric are in possession of voices that cut through with not one ambiguous utterance, something traditional folk songs benefit enormously from. There’s ten songs here, which includes fine arrangements of “Jane Jane”, “Blackwaterside” and “Lowlands” among them, coming in at just over half hour, which leaves us desperately wanting. Well, I guess there’s a whole lot more out there to go at.

Choice Track: Lowlands (NSV 495)