Debra Granik's film Winter's Bone (written with Anne Rosellini) won a best screenplay award at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival before opening in select theaters and receiving (mostly) stellar reviews. While the location for the film is breathtaking (the haunting Ozark Mountains) and its screenplay brilliant, it's easy to discern that the music chosen for the film had a major impact on audiences as well. Winter's Bone: Music from the Motion Picture (the first offering from Light in the Attic's Cinewax imprint) contains tracks used in and inspired by the film. All but a couple were performed by musicians from the region. There are traditional mountain folk songs, hardscrabble honky tonk tunes, gentle folk ballads, hymns, and a couple of originals: one by the Tindersticks' Dickon Hinchliffe, who also wrote the cues for the score (available online only), and actor John Hawkes, who plays the pivotal role of Teardrop in the film. The majority of these performances feature the voice of Ozark singer Marideth Sisco and her string group Blackberry Winter. Sisco is an Ozark folkorist with a pure, plaintive yet sonorous mountain voice. Until 2010, she was largely unknown -- as were most of these players -- beyond her region. Her vocals are arresting, soothing, emotionally resonant, and musically disciplined. Whether it's her reading of Ola Belle Reed's "High on a Mountain," the spiritual "Farther Along," the traditional "Ballad of Jessup Dolly," she and Blackberry Winter are spectacular. Other highlights include fiddler Lee Ann Sours and banjoist Brandon Wooden's version of the old fiddler's lament "Sleepy Desert," two barroom weepers by Rick Reding and his White River Music Company, fiddler and vocalist Billy Ward's hunted outlaws string band ballad "Man on the Run," and "Bred and Buttered," written and performed by Hawkes. Sisco combines her voice with Hinchliffe's one-man band on a divine reading of "Angel Band" to close the set. But these are only stopping points, Winter's Bone is perfectly balanced, played, and sequenced; every one of these 15 songs helps make this a contender for soundtrack of the year.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek