Set in Mississippi in the 1930s and inspired by Homer's The Odyssey,
Joel and Ethan Coen's new film, O Brother, Where Art Thou?
features a first-rate soundtrack of period music performed largely by contemporary artists. In this context, the Alan Lomax-recorded field holler by James Carter & the Prisoners, "Po Lazarus," and Harry McClintock's original 1928 recording of his poignant hobo classic "Big Rock Candy Mountain" are of a piece with Delta blues great Skip James
's "Hard Time Killing Floor Blues," interpreted authoritatively by Chris Thomas King. The pristine beauty of revered standards such as "I'll Fly Away" (with Alison Krauss
and Gillian Welch
harmonizing over a spare acoustic arrangement) and "Didn't Leave Nobody but the Baby," featuring Krauss, Welch, and Emmylou Harris
in close, heart-tugging harmony, will bring tears to all but the hard-core heathens among us. And check out the sub-teen Peasall Sisters, who are simply fabulous on a feisty interpretation of Maybelle Carter's "In the Highways."