O Brother, What Took So Long?
When you hear the words “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” your thoughts should perhaps turn to music rather than movies. The soundtrack to the Coen brothersâ€šÃ„Ã´ new film stirred a lot of interest when it won five Grammys this year (including album of the year). Yet the compilation was causing a stir in the music industry well before the Grammies and has, joyously, inducted many newcomers into the world of folk.The soundtrack is a wide range of folk music, from the modern Mississippi-style blues guitar and vocal handling of Chris Thomas King, to the more classic gospel bluegrass sound of 1950â€šÃ„Ã´s-era Stanley Brothers. It is sunny, soulful, charming, and bears repeated listening. The eighteen tracks move easily from ocapella to acoustic, chorus to solo. The most notable vocal performances are Dan Tyminskiâ€šÃ„Ã´s entertaining “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow,” and Ralph Stanleyâ€šÃ„Ã´s Grammy-winning heart-felt “O Death.”
With the popularity the soundtrack, bluegrass is finally threatening to rip open the world of underground folk music and bring this appealing alternative to the mainstream after years of obscurity. O Brother may just be the catalyst that sets high lonesome down next to urban hip-hop and corporate pop. Well, one can only hope.