Saturday, January 12, 2013

T-Bone Burnett's Nashville Soundtrack

The Music of Nashville: 
Season 1, Volume 1
Produced by T-Bone Burnett
Big Machine Records
Five Scoops of Bosco

Reviewed by Allen Bacon, The Daily Bosco

The thing that really keeps me coming back to the ABC Television Series Nashville each week is the music.

The reason, of course, is that the Musical Director is none other than Producer Extraordinaire T-Bone Burnett.

The sound is unmistakable.  The guitars, The rich and warm percussion. The Band.

It's got T-Bone Burnett's stamp all over it.

You may be surprised to know that the actors and actresses on the show actually do sing those songs.  It is not over-dubbed.

So when you see Connie Britton (Rayna James), Hayden Panettiere (Juliette Barnes), Charles Esten (Deacon Clayborne), Clare Bowen (Scarlett O'Connor), Sam Palladino (Gunnar), and others singing in the series...that's the actual actor performing.

So, silly me. I thought when the first soundtrack (released in December in time for Christmas) came out that Burnett would enlist Country Music notables to sing the songs.

Of course, I forgot that this is the same guy that thought putting Led Zeppelin front man Robert Plant and Bluegrass legend Alison Kraus together was a good idea.

Several Grammys and a multi-million selling album later.....

Actually having the actors sing is not a bad idea when they are combined with Burnett's collection of ace studio players.  The result is a raw and true album.

As they say in the movie business the story is the thing and in Country Music it is often the way the song is written that makes or breaks a song.

For the show, Burnett has tapped some of Nashville's finest songwriters and the help of longtime friend Buddy Miller to co-produce (and perform on) most of the songs here.

The result is a collection of songs that provides a case that contemporary country music doesn't need to alienate itself from it's history.   Country Alt and Americana music can be accessible.

Most of the music on this album....Britton's beautiful "Buried Under," her duet with Panettiere on "Wrong Song," and Panettiere's duet with Esten on "Undermine" use Burnett's sensibility, without losing soul for production sake.

Panettiere's "Love Like Mine," and her performance on the radio mix of "Telescope" would without a doubt chart if they were released as singles.

The Civil Wars' "If I Didn't Know Better," performed by Palladino and Bowen, and the original version of "Telescope," performed by Lennon and Maisy Stella (aged nine and twelve, who play Britton's daughters on the series), with only an acoustic guitar for accompaniment are great songs and got a lot of attention recently on social media.

Elvis Costello's "Twist of Barbwire," performed by Jonathan Jackson (Avery), walks the thin line between rockabilly and alt country.

Esten's "Sideshow" is a lovely ballad that is a cross between Americana and contemporary country.

Soundtracks for television are usual not this good and I rarely bother reviewing them.

The Music of Nashville is a very notable exception and deserves a listen.

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