Child Ballads


Generally favorable reviews - based on 12 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 12
  2. Negative: 0 out of 12
Buy On
  1. Feb 26, 2013
    From the disapproving father in Willie o Winsbury to the courageous, justice-seeking wife and mother in Geordie, the ballads’ centuries-old characters--and their dilemmas--are beautifully drawn.
  2. Mar 5, 2013
    As rich and enchanting as the source material undeniably is, the winding songs of Child Ballads ultimately get locked into an unfortunate paradox: the magic of the narratives require a focussed and concentrated listen, but the sparse arrangements and repetitive melodies don’t invite the ear in nearly as closely as Mitchell’s recent LPs.
  3. Yet subtle fiddle, accordion, pump organ, and especially bass liven up the acoustic guitars just a touch, and both Mitchell's fluting, childlike lead and Hamer's mellower follow avoid purist sanctity as well as modernizing pizzazz.
  4. Mojo
    Feb 12, 2013
    Anaïs Mitchell with guitarist/singer Jefferson Hamer unexpectedly proves that her precious storytelling art is equally mesmerizing on the great traditional ballads collated in the 19th century by Francis James Child. [Mar 2013, p.96]
  5. Mar 21, 2013
    Through Mitchell and Hamer, these characters, made flat by design and even more by time, spring into full dimension, ache and grieve and flirt, live and die and get born again.
  6. Mar 19, 2013
    While the material may be tried and true, the performers deserve ample credit for making the tunes invitingly clean and bright.
  7. Feb 12, 2013
    These ballads in the raw are rough, tragic things--Geordie is hung for his crimes, there's a drowning in Clyde Waters--that lose their impact when pretty harmonies smother them.
  8. 80
    It's a deeply satisfying album, steeped in mystery and enchantment.
  9. 75
    It is a cohesive collection, each ballad given similar treatment, steadied and prettied to similar effect, and the exercise is sadly brief.
  10. Feb 12, 2013
    With archaic language updated by transatlantic twang, it's a winning addition to the canon.
  11. Feb 12, 2013
    Though Mitchell and Hamer avoid the kind of astringent vocal blends favoured by most British singers of these ballads, there's still an intriguing piquancy to their harmonies, with Mitchell's girlish timbre resting against Hamer's milder, warmer tones.

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