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O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU: SOUNDTRACK

"One of the reasons the Coen brothers have attained their lofty auteur status is their ability to transport us to far-flung places, into the midst of unexpected situations, and still find a universal humanity.

I haven’t yet had the privilege of viewing O Brother Where Art Thou?, but the first few tracks of the soundtrack were enough to have me drooling for the opportunity. Perhaps the American deep south at the height of the Depression is not the time and place you’d choose to live your life. But it’s fascinating for a vicarious visit.

This CD alone is enough to take us there. As you’d expect, it’s full of songs that by pop-chart standards are as corny as a wheat field; I can’t see any of these bluegrass guitar and fiddle ditties, trad spirituals, and country folk and gospel recordings causing Britney Spears to quake in her chunky designer shoes.

The music here is rootsy and nostalgic, performed with oodles of integrity and absolutely no production gloss. It is a vintage compilation of bluegrass stalwarts and fresh talents like Alison Krauss, who contributes collaborations with Gillian Welch and Emmylou Harris, as well as the stunning a cappella country gospel of Down In The River To Pray.

It’s not the only a cappella delight here, however, with Ralph Stanley’s unaccompanied rendition of O Death being the simplest, yet most haunting of recordings; and the Fairfield Four lowering the pitch to Paul Robeson territory with Lonesome Valley. You can almost taste the salt of the earth, and hear the roll of Old Man River in the background.

Although it has its pensive and poignant moments, the disc is replete, of course, with twangy guitars and banjos, sprightly fiddles and catchy choruses. Often all together.

This is a soundtrack of warts and all recordings, clear and detailed in their capturing of performance, but entirely lack in the sheen, style and sophistication of contemporary pop production. Of course they’re far richer in raw, honest emotion. Take your pick."
Brad Green

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TITLE: O Brother, Where Art Thou ?

FEATURED ARTISTS: J. Carter, Harry McLintock, Norman Blake, Alison Krauss, The Soggy Bottom Boys, Dan Tyminski, Chris Thomas King, The Whites, Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris, The Peasall Sisters, The Cox Family, John Hartford, Tim Blake Nelson, The Fairfield Four, Ralph Stanley, The Stanley Brothers

TRACKS: 19







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