This soap opera has finished it's run on a dramatic turn and what's left in its wake is this first volume of soundtrack albums. The show itself managed to feature some interesting acts like Lindi Ortega, but this album is about the songs of the main characters. Some appeared in more stripped down or live versions in the show but here are full studio productions. Overall it is better than expected, but with T-Bone Bennett in overall charge I would expect a certain level of sound quality. The diversity of the songs also reflects the show’s characters different musical standpoints and story lines. Gun For a Mouth is deliberately more rocking as that fits the plot.
Ho Hey is sung at a sound check by the two daughters of one of the show leading characters - an established country singer. That supposedly spontaneous moment is here a very produced song. The real life sisters Maisy and Lennon Stella however have their charm. Upstart newcomer Juliette Barnes in fact is supposed to be the one changing the sound of country and has some of the better songs. We Are Water is a strong song but then it's written by Patty Griffin and features Buddy Miller on guitar. One thing that is notable is that all the characters sing very well and could easily extend their careers in the real music industry if they chose to.
Rayna Jaymes( played by Connie Britton) sings Lucinda Williams' Bitter Memory but gives it a pop gloss that the writer would have been unlikely to do. The indie wild card singer Avery Barkley (Jonathan Jackson) who's music is hi-jacked by a big name producer - a recurrent theme - sings the ballad Let There Be Lonely which is not how he is portrayed in the overall series.
Clare Bowen, who plays the interesting singer/writer Scarlett O'Connor has an interesting twang to her voice and her duet with Gunnar Scott (Sam Palladio) is again listed as the Studio version while the live rendition was actually more affecting.
The album closes with Nothing in this World will Ever Break My Heart Again. It worked well in the show and is here a more measured studio version. Burnett's production brings out the drama of the song and Hayden Panettiere gives a very strong vocal performing a song of isolation and grim resolution. Nothing In This World Will Ever Break My Heart Again was written by Sarah Buxton and Kate York. It is a song that begs for attention but the version sung in the last episode in the Bluebird Cafe was a more emotional rendition, particularly given it's context in the story line.
Life imitating art, or art imitating life? An accurate portrayal of Music City? To a degree, but then it is like most such series set in a particular industry as much about the linear story line as it is about the reality of the subject. This show is as much about the people, politics and place as it is about one of its major industries. But then it was never meant to be a documentary, rather it is entertainment for outsiders, but with just enough of a glimpse of the inner workings of Music City to make it seem real.