Unlike O Brother Where Art Thou, the Coen Brothers' previous collaboration with T-Bone Burnett, the soundtrack to Inside Llewyn Davis isn't a pastiche. Inside Llewyn Davis gains its power through precision as the whole idea of the project is capturing a specific point in time, the great Folk Scare of the early '60s, when Kingston Trio and Peter Paul & Mary were having crossover hits, the time just before Bob Dylan arrived in Greenwich Village. In other words, it was the time where Dave Van Ronk reigned supreme, and he -- and his memoir -- provides the touchstone for the Coens' remarkable Inside Llewyn Davis and, even if the lines don't strictly match, the Coens touch on truths about talent and commercialism within their film. This makes the soundtrack something of a difficult beast on its own terms. Sometimes, the parody is evident -- quite delightfully so on "Please Mr. Kennedy," an intentional whirlwind novelty rocket-fueled by Adam Driver's asides -- but sometimes it's slyer, as when the Clancy Brothers are gently sent up. Usually, Inside Llewyn Davis is straight satire, though, as it concentrates on the titular character's channeling of Van Ronk and, as such, has no intention of treating the music cavalierly; it winds up as something unusual for the Coens: an homage that comes from a place of warmth, a salute so loving it's hard to deny the affection.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine