Album Review: Various Artists – Crazy Heart (Soundtrack)
From the soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou to his work on the Robert Plant/Alison Krauss collaboration, T-Bone Burnett is the top producer for country and Americana “event” recordings. His latest event is the soundtrack for current awards show darling Crazy Heart, co-produced by the late Stephen Bruton.
The two movies couldn’t be more different, but the soundtracks have some striking similarities. Like the O Brother soundtrack, the songs here are split among classic recordings, originals from contemporary artists and a spattering of material performed by the actors themselves. Songs like “Hello Trouble” by Buck Owens, “My Baby’s Gone” by the Louvin Brothers and “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way” are classics in every sense of the word and should be a part of any country fan’s library. Added to that are tracks from Townes Van Zandt, Sam Phillips and Lightning Hopkins to represent the Americana side of the music.
Ryan Bingham, who also appears in the movie, chips in a couple of songs. The bouncy “I Don’t Know” is probably the most instantly accessible song that Bingham has ever recorded. There are two versions of it, with Bingham’s version trumping Jeff Bridges’ more laid-back take. “The Weary Kind,” written with Burnett, is deservedly getting the most notice, and the amount of awards it’s received have all but guaranteed it an Oscar nomination for Best Song. Perfectly suited to Bingham’s gravelly voice, the song captures the life of the hard-living troubled soul that’s central to the movie. More importantly, it stands on its own as a moving ballad, independent of any movie.
The bulk of the songs are left up to the vocal abilities of Bridges as main character Bad Blake. Bridges–who does have an album under his belt–has a warm, gruff voice with a bit of a soulful tinge to it. He’s ably backed by a band that’s more Americana than mainstream country (When was the last time you heard an accordion on country radio?), but the songs like “Hold On You” and “Fallin’ & Flyin’” are so instantly catchy that they might have become hits in the Outlaw Era. Bridges does a solid job on them, but the overall success of his songs are due more to the quality of the songwriters and the band than the singer.
The biggest surprise on the album is that Colin Farrell, who gets a song and a half on the soundtrack, could be a country star if the whole actor/international sex symbol thing doesn’t work out for him. His performance on “Gone, Gone, Gone” is better than most of the songs released by actual country singers over the past year.
Bruton, who had made a name for himself as a musician, songwriter and singer, died after a long bout with cancer in 2009. He co-wrote most of the original songs along with Burnett and a few others. It’s a fitting finale for a career that stretched more than 40 years and hopefully will shed some light on a man who spent too much of his career flying under the radar.
- luckyoldsun: Paul, Good info. It's pretty disgraceful that Billboard editors can't even get musical history remotely right regarding even their own publication. The …
- Juli Thanki: Yep, I'll be there. Looking forward to it!
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- Jack Williams: I was also there on Saturday, Juli. I really liked Angeleena Presley's set, too. Marty and the boys …
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- Jeremy Dylan: @SCOOTER: Depending on where your tastes lie, I'd say I'm A Song (the new record), Pretty Close to the Truth …