A film about a young female musicologist who visits the south at the beginning of the century is fine vehicle not only for some ingénue in a hoopskirt, but also for lots of roots music. Early 2001 brought us the movie Oh, Brother Where Art Thou?, which was chock full of fine bluegrass music. Now Lions Gate Films brings us an homage to Appalachia.
The list of performers on Songcatcher reads like a who’s who of female musical Americana. Rosanne Cash, Iris Dement, Dolly Parton, Emmy Rossum, Emmylou Harris, Allison Moorer, Patty Loveless, Julie, Miller, Maria McKee, Sara Evans, Gillian Welch, Deanna Carter, and Hazel Dickens, all lend their considerable talents to this project. Instead of a standard “olde-tyme” traditional treatment, each artist does their songs in their own inimitable way. Dolly Parton uses the same personnel as on her recent Little Sparrow album, while Rosanne Cash’s contribution has John Leventhal playing all the accompanying instruments. Along with a cornucopia of songs, the CD tucks in a pair of “Score Suites” written by David Mansfield. They are both lush and symphonic without sounding overblown or out of place.
Soundtrack albums often end up as little more than musical souvenirs of films long moribund. Even if you never see the movie, this CD deserves your attention.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s July ’01 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.