Album: Various Artists

Cold Mountain, DMZ/Columbia
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This soundtrack to Anthony Minghella's period epic Cold Mountain - in which Jude Law searches for lost love Nicole Kidman in the aftermath of the American Civil War - utilises the same format and producer (T-Bone Burnett) as O Brother, Where Art Thou? It's a sort of O Lover, Where Art Thou?, then, with slightly more sombre material and performances, but utilising a similar mixture of traditional folk songs like "The Cuckoo", gospel choir interludes like The Sacred Harp Singers' robust, round-style chant of "I'm Going Home", and newer pieces written in period style. Alison Krauss is along for the ride again, on songs written by Elvis Costello ("The Scarlet Tide") and Sting ("You Will Be My Ain True Love"), both of whom indulge their bloody subject-matter with understated gusto. "The field is cut and bleeds true red/ The cannonballs fly round my head/ The infirmary men they count me dead/ But I've gone to find my ain true love," sings Krauss in the latter, to an Enya-esque arrangement blending weeping strings with harmonium drone. A rawer, more authentically ravaged approach finds Jack White in hillbilly mode, accompanied by banjo, fiddle and mandolin on five songs - though the overall effect is somewhat sabotaged by the inappropriate echoes of Bacharach in the melodies of Gabriel Yared's slushy incidental music.