Carolyn Mark

A Tribute to Robert Altman's Nashville

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Finally, a tribute album that works. Featuring an all-star roster of Mint Records artists and friends, including Neko Case, Kelly Hogan, the New Pornographers' Carl Newman, and headliner/organizer Carolyn Mark, this homage to Robert Altman's classic film satire Nashville succeeds because the performances transcend the material -- they're heartfelt readings of songs that were largely written for maximum irony and corniness. Sure, there's a tongue-in-cheek element at work here as well -- the reproduction of speeches and dialogue from the film at times undercuts the effectiveness of the music -- but the vocal performances are much stronger than in the actual film, and while some of the songs are still too campy to salvage, the truly solid material (like Hogan's heartbreaking reading of "Dues," Dallas Good's Lee Hazlewood-inspired "Bluebird," and Tolan McNeil's lovely take on Keith Carradine's Oscar-winning hit "I'm Easy") seems far more substantial and authentic on CD than it ever did on celluloid, enhancing the undeniable catchiness of these faux-country classics. An appreciation of Altman's film is certainly recommended, but not necessary.

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