The album features orchestral arrangements by Michael Chorney, who was involved with Anaïs' recordings since Hymns for the Exiled in 2004. The recording itself is based upon a live version of the 'folk opera' which was performed by Mitchell with the collaboration of Mr. Chorney and a theatrical director, Ben T. Matchstick. These performances originally featured a 22-person cast and, after a tour of New England, the songs began to be edited and reworked.
Upon release, Hadestown gained extremely positive reviews overall. Drowned in Sound awarded the album a rare 10/10, stating that "Mitchell traverses such a sweeping range of emotions, genres and styles over the course of Hadestown, it’s frankly remarkable that the whole thing works at all. That it works so brilliantly well, that in under an hour it creates a world you’ll want to return to time and time again, that it is a glittering model of the form – of collaboration itself – is nothing short of awe-inspiring."The Guardian and NME were similarly effusive in their praise, awarding the album 5/5 and 9/10 respectively. Stereo Subversion's Jonathan Sanders gave the album a perfect score and called it "a lasting example of where folk music can go when the right musicians take hold of history." The album also tops review aggregator website AnyDecentMusic?'s all time chart with an 8.9, the highest rating for any album until Frank Ocean'sChannel Orange.