label: Sony Music Soundtrax
our score: 4.0 out of 5.0
Other Side of Traditional American Folk Music
You have to
hand it to T Bone Burnett. Not only did he almost single-handedly
bring traditional Amercan folk music back to life with his soundtrack
for O Brother, Where Art Thou?, but he made it a phenomenon.
And, unlike many of these musical revivals we've seen over the
years (neo-swing comes to mind), the bluegrass/folk revival actually
brought this music a newfound appreciation throughout listeners
of many different genres - both young and old.
that didn't happen, unlike the film industry's discovery of the
comic book goldmine, was a quick jump from every major studio
to incorporate American folk and bluegrass into their soundtracks.
This could have been a horrible thing for the genre, and perhaps
was one of the reasons it's stayed such a respectable area of
music (both inside and out of the film realm). Still, it was inevitable
that someone pick up T Bone Burnett to work as the producer on
their next period piece. Luckily it was for a period piece that
also translated into a truly amazing piece of film. Namely, Cold
roughly the same artistic direction as the O Brother, Where
Art Thou? soundtrack, Cold Mountain digs deep into
the back reaches of traditional Amercan music, as well as incorporating
several brand new songs that fit closely into the same thematic
and musical underpinnings of these traditional pieces.
duties on three of these traditionals is Jack White, the lead
singer of the Grammy-nominated rock group, The White Stripes.
The album opens with his stunning rendition of "Wayfaring
Stranger." On this, and his other traditionals (featuring
fiddle work by the great Stuart Duncan) White leaves his rock
'n' roll growl behind, instead offering a country warble that
lends itself more than sufficiently to the Southern Appalachian
feel of these pieces. But where White shines most is in his skill
in original songwriting with "Never Far Away" which
was written specifically for this soundtrack and tells the story
of Inman's (the lead character's) journey home from his point
Alison Krauss's "The Scarlet Tide" (newly penned by
Elvis Costello and T Bone Burnett) works disturbingly well both
as a song on its own, as well as an exploration of the sadness
and despair of love in the time of war and death. Krauss's other
contribution, "You Will Be My Ain True Love," (written
by, and backing vocals by Sting) doesn't work quite as well, due
mostly to Sting's tendency to make every song a pop song these
days. Still, it's quite well-written, and Krauss delivers marvelously.
It's little wonder both of her contributions have been nominated
for Academy Awards.
of the rest of the record further explores the darker side of
traditional folk music, most notably in Tim Eriksen, Riley Baugus
& Tim O'Brien's chilling rendition of "I Wish My Baby
Was Born" - a song that carries much more of a blow after
viewing the film, but succeeds nearly as well on its own.
As for the
scoring on the film, this was handled by Gabriel Yared (The
T alented Mr. Ripley, Message in a Bottle, City of Angels).
Four of his pieces are also present here, including the film's
main theme "Ada Plays." Unfortunately they don't deliver
the same punch as the album's more traditional titles, and their
presence clumped together near the album's end implies they may
have only made the cut as an afterthought. Still, fans of the
film will be glad to see these themes present as well.
cousin, the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, Cold
Mountain delivers a delightful collection of traditional
American music, all performed true to their form by a tremendously
talented group of musicians. Those who were enthralled by O
Brother's more upbeat and carefree feel may be a bit disappointed,
but for a more full spectrum of this often-overlooked genre, Cold
Mountain is deserving of it's space next to anyone who found
O Brother, Where Art Thou? as spellbinding as this music
liked Cold Mountain...
Wayfaring Stranger - Jack White
2. Like A Songbird That Has Fallen - Reeltime
3. I Wish My Baby Was Born - Tim Eriksen, Riley
Baugus & Tim O'Brien
4. The Scarlet Tide - Alison Krauss
5. The Cuckoo - Tim Eriksen & Riley Baugus
6. Sittin' On Top Of The World - Jack White
7. Am I Born To Die? - Tim Eriksen
8. You Will Be My Ain True Love - Alison Krauss
9. I'm Going Home - Sacred Harp Singers At Liberty
10. Never Far Away - Jack White
11. Christmas Time Will Soon Be Over - Jack
12. Ruby With The Eyes That Sparkle - Stuart
Duncan & Dirk Powell
13. Lady Margret - Cassie Franklin
14. Great High Mountain - Jack White
15. Anthem - Gabriel Yared
16. Ada Plays - Gabriel Yared
17. Ada And Inman - Gabriel Yared
18. Love Theme - Gabriel Yared
19. Idumea - Sacred Harp Singers At Liberty