The soundtrack to the movie Big Bad Love, made from Larry Brown's collection of stories is, as it should be, a very Southern affair -- more accurately, a thing of the Mississippi hill country, also acting as a very effective ad for the Fat Possum label, since seven of the tracks here come from their artists. Fine stuff it is too, with R.L. Burnside in great form on his own "Come on In" and a surprising cover of Dylan's "Everything Is Broken," which works so well for him because of its blues structure, although he brings a surprisingly sophisticated approach to it -- by his standards, anyway. Asie Payton's "I Love You" is so intense it's scary, and Robert Belfour's "My Baby's Gone" simply drips with ache. Former Television man Tom Verlaine contributes a couple of tracks, with "Sleepwalkin'" being a forgettable, twangy instrumental and "Spiritual," a collaboration with the Kronos Quartet, faring better -- but still not world class. Steve Earle delivers on "Goodbye," letting the spaces in the song talk eloquently, but what will attract a lot of people to this disc is the appearance of two new Tom Waits tracks. "Long Way Home" takes him on the kind of blues route that's become so familiar in his work -- a kind of enigmatic blues that remains a love song and a promise for the future, putting it in the same realm as "Jayne's Blue Wish," a Waits-ian lullaby with gentle, if sometimes disturbed, dreams for tomorrow, his guitar work cast into relief by a quiet trumpet solo. It might not all hang together as an album -- there seems to be a divide between the gutbucket blues and the rest -- but it still makes for some excellent listening.
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AllMusic Review by Chris Nickson