North Country, starring Charlize Theron, is a fictionalized account of a landmark 1984 sexual harassment case concerning a female miner in Minnesota. Director Niki Caro (Whale Rider) produced the film's soundtrack, a Bob Dylan-heavy companion to the region that's augmented by Amores Perros composer Gustavo Santaolalla's lush score. Caro had toyed with building the soundtrack around Bruce Springsteen, but found his first person, young male narrative style clashed with the film's character arc. Instead, she chose Dylan, a native Minnesotan whose work speaks a more universal language. That said, it's perplexing that she would choose a rendition of the film's namesake song by the instrumentally talented, yet vocally challenged Leo Kottke. Dylan himself contributes from his canon "Lay Lady Lay," "Sweetheart Like You," "Do Right to Me Baby (Do Unto Others)," as well as an atmospheric new piece "Tell Ol' Bill" that mirrors much of his late-'90s work. Also contributing to the Dylan love fest is Cat Power, whose piano-driven version of "Paths of Victory" is an album highlight.
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AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger