Nashville Cast

The Music of Nashville: Original Soundtrack Season 3, Vol. 1

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One can argue that the only thing that keeps Nashville from being a complete prime-time soap opera is the relatively consistent quality of its music. It is so strategically placed, episode by episode, that it offers both enhancements to and distractions from its various plot lines. Not only is this first soundtrack -- representing the first half of season three -- not an exception, it's among the better titles issued by the franchise and represents its characters well. While it's true that the principals -- actresses Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere -- only have one solo cut apiece, they are both excellent. The former's "Lies of the Lonely" is a shuffling rocker that recalls the better aspect of '90s country with its snaky guitars, whining pedal steel, and natural-sounding drums. The latter's "Disappear" has, surprisingly, more of an Americana flavor, though it's still within the contemporary country milieu. "Carry On" is a wonderful, modern acoustic blues duet between Clare Bowen and Michael Mykelti Williamson, complete with solid harmonica fills. Charles Esten actually co-wrote his modern honky tonk ballad "I Know How to Love You Now" with Deana Carter. His performance (with Pat Buchanan and Colin Linden on guitars, Russ Pahl on pedal steel, and album producer Buddy Miller on backing vocals) is one of this set's very best cuts. "If Your Heart Can Handle It," a pop-country duet between Chris Carmack and Audrey Peeples, is also a winner. "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World," performed by Jonathan Jackson, Chaley Rose, and Sam Palladio, was written by David Poe. It has a pop/rock hook that betrays the composer's love of early Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe. "Good Woman - Good to Me," from Will Chase, was written by Rodney Crowell and is not far removed from his own excellent country-rock. Almost all of the previously issued discs in this series contained a duet between Bowen and Palladio, and this one is no exception. The closer, "When You Open Your Eyes," is among the most tender love songs ever to grace this series. About the only thing missing here is a selection from Lennon & Maisy Stella -- which would make it perfect -- but song for song, the music here not only trumps everything the series has previously released, it can stand on its own.

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