Magical 'Mountain' Music

Cold Mountain Soundtrack

The phenomenal success of O Brother, Where Art Thou? and its companion soundtrack – which sold millions and brought bluegrass out from the shadows – has blazed a trail for this latest Hollywood soundtrack.

For Cold Mountain, Miramax enlisted O Brother’s T. Bone Burnett as producer, and Burnett recorded a bunch of fine musicians doing timeless-sounding material. Some of those fine folks – Alison Krauss, Tim O’Brien, Stuart Duncan, Cheryl White, Mike Compton, Dennis Crouch, David Schnauffer and Edgar Meyer among them – are Nashville musicians.

Krauss sings two songs, both of which sound terrific – one of them is the Sting-penned (yep, we said Sting) “You Will Be My Ain True Love,” but the song itself works better as a movie companion than as a stand-alone. An unexpected highlight of the album is a gorgeous and gentle performance of “Like a Songbird That Has Fallen,” by the Reeltime Travelers. The Sacred Harp Singers at Liberty Church, from beautiful Sand Mountain, Ala., also emerge triumphant on two cuts. B

Stumble Into Grace –
Emmylou Harris

Emmylou Harris remains as vital, electric and bold an artist as the young woman who moved to Nashville in the early ’70s. But where she once carried on Gram Parsons’ vision of melding hardcore country to contemporary rhythms, for the past decade Harris has explored an acoustic sonic landscape rooted in folk.

The Birmingham, Ala., native stumbled into success with her previous Grammy-winning Red Dirt Girl. With Stumble Into Grace, two songs concern themselves with social commentary, “Time In Babylon” and “Lost Unto This World.” Much of the album is told from the point of view of a woman looking back on her life, realizing it is almost over and finding herself nearly crazed from lost opportunity, lost loves and loneliness.

The tribute to June Carter Cash, “Strong Hand,” contains haunting musical touches, thanks in part to producer Malcolm Burn. At 57, Harris may be square in the middle stages of life, but as a performer, she is still in the forefront of the music biz. B-

When the Sun Goes Down –
Kenny Chesney

Things just keep getting better for little Kenny Chesney