O Brother, Where Art Thou?

O Brother Where Art Thou (Mercury)

Record Reviews

O Brother, Where Art Thou?


The music to the new Coen Brothers movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? is so integral to the story, the film could almost be called a musical. The soundtrack to O Brother is a collection of "old time" music, though to some ears the collection of folk songs, bluegrass, field hollers, and blues will sound like old-time country. That's because this same musical blend is, for the most part, what country music was before Nashville got ahold of it. Artists from the time frame in which the movie occurs, circa 1937, perform some of the songs, Harry McClintock's hobo classic "Big Rock Candy Mountain," for example. But the collection primarily features contemporary performances produced by T-Bone Burnett that accurately reproduce some of the sounds of that era, when folk music really was by and about "folks." Ralph Stanley, Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch, Norman Blake, the Cox Family, Emmylou Harris, John Hartford, and a bunch more all lend their talents on songs that resonate with a magical charm. A group created just for the soundtrack, the Soggy Bottom Boys, are the real standouts, however. Led by Dan Tyminski, former member of Alison Krauss' Union Station, their versions of "In the Jailhouse Now" and "I Am a Man Of Constant Sorrow" are reverent, yet gleeful, adding a perfect edge to the sound of O Brother. As a whole, Burnett & Co. have crafted a wonderful album. It's a celebration of country music's roots that is eclectic and inviting and one that will resonate for a long time to come.


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Guy Forsyth & Jeska Bailey
Conspirators (Record Review)

Reid Jowers, Sept. 27, 2019

Texas Platters
The Texas Horns
Get Here Quick (Record Review)

Jay Trachtenberg, Sept. 20, 2019

More by Jim Caligiuri
Carrie Elkin’s Life-and-Death Folk
Carrie Elkin’s Life-and-Death Folk
Her father's death and daughter's birth upped the stakes of the singer's finest work

April 14, 2017

SXSW Music Live: Richard Barone Presents Greenwich Village in the Sixties
SXSW Music Live: Richard Barone Presents Greenwich Village in the Sixties
Soft Boys, Youngbloods, Moby Grape, Brian Jones’ grandson, etc.

March 18, 2017

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle