AJ Schnack's documentary Kurt Cobain: About a Son is constructed largely from interviews author/journalist Michael Azerrad conducted with the Nirvana singer/songwriter when he was writing their authorized biography, Come as You Are. About a Son is also a biography, but it relies on Cobain's own recollections, pairing it with still photos and newly shot footage of Olympia, Seattle, and Aberdeen, WA, all intended to create the perception of seeing the world through Cobain's eyes. There is no Nirvana footage in the movie and there are no Nirvana songs on the accompanying soundtrack, which instead relies heavily on songs important and influential to Kurt, along with five interview excerpts and a couple of dreamy, atmospheric instrumentals from Death Cab for Cutie/Postal Service leader Ben Gibbard and Steve Fisk, who provided much more of this kind of background ambient music for the film. Thankfully, this soundtrack pushes the background music to the background and instead concentrates on Cobain's influences, roughly presented in chronological order according to when the music was important to Kurt, which means that R.E.M. and David Bowie show up toward the end instead of the beginning, with Mudhoney providing the mid-album pivot. Anybody who has followed Cobain with any interest will find the names on About a Son familiar even if they don't know the music -- the Melvins were the first band he idolized, he was photographed in Scratch Acid T-shirts, Nirvana covered the Vaselines' "Son of a Gun," here presented in its original version; really, Arlo Guthrie's "Motorcycle Song" is the only real surprise -- but the nice thing about this soundtrack is that it doesn't try to present a revisionist history of Kurt and his times; it merely documents them (or at least his version of it) accurately. For those who lived through the late '80s/early '90s, About a Son will evoke that era, and for those who came to Kurt Cobain and Nirvana later, this will give a bit of an idea of what those years felt like, which is pretty high praise for a documentary soundtrack indeed.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine