Various Crazy Heart

Unlike its treatment of other musical genres, Hollywood has a pretty good track record when it comes to country music. In many cases, it's the actors who rise to the challenge of giving the subject matter respect and dignity, and Jeff Bridges's performance in Crazy Heart certainly ranks alongside other memorable roles, such as Sissy Spacek in Coal Miner's Daughter, Robert Duvall in Tender Mercies and Joaquin Phoenix in Walk The Line. While his character (Bad Blake) is a wonderful pastiche of Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson and Billy Joe Shaver, Bridges's singing ties everything together. With producer T-Bone Burnett and late singer-songwriter Stephen Bruton guiding him, Bridges is utterly convincing on the material anchoring the film: "Somebody Else" and "Fallin' & Flyin'." His co-star, Colin Farrell, is equally at home on the mic, making this soundtrack a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience apart from the movie. Older songs by Buck Owens, the Louvin Brothers, Townes Van Zandt, Jennings and Lightning Hopkins provide proper context, and relative newcomer Ryan Bingham adds some energetic, contemporary flavour. Crazy Heart may not spark the same resurgence in outlaw country that Burnett's work on O Brother, Where Art Thou? did for old time music, but it's sure to remind people of what the true spirit of country music is. (New West)