As the soundtrack to Ira Sachs' Forty Shades of Blue, which won the Grand Jury Prize at 2005's Sundance Film Festival, this release has everything going for it, starting with the film's setting, which just happens to be Memphis, where blues, gospel, and country all collided to make rock & roll and soul. Produced by David Less, this soundtrack makes full use of that fact, opening with Reba Russell's version of "A Little Bit of Soap," written by the late, great Bert Berns (who also wrote "Twist and Shout" and "Piece of My Heart"), and her version just oozes with Memphis soul. Legendary Memphis producer Jim Dickinson reunites with Sid Selvidge, his old bandmate in Mud Boy & the Neutrons, for two tracks here, the joyously rocking "Jelly Roll Boogie" and the loose but poignant "No Room for a Tramp." A vintage slice of soulful blues by Albert Collins, "Snowed In," is also here, along with an elegant and ageless version of "What Do I Do" by the Red Stick Ramblers, plus a version of Dan Penn and Chips Moman's ominous romantic tragedy "The Dark End of the Street," done by J. Blackfoot. Bits of the atmospheric and chime-filled score by Tindersticks member Dickon Hinchliffe are interspersed through the set, and a dark, desperate tone begins to emerge that fits the movie's themes of romantic isolation, displacement, and the human penchant for either ignoring or smothering the things we love the most. There are a lot of shades of blue, as it turns out, but Memphis blue may well be the most soulful.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett