I didn’t choose an Artist of the Aughts, but this soundtrack is yet another reason why Jack White could’ve topped the list. He contributes five heartfelt folk songs to the set, with “Never Far Away” my favorite of the group (it would sound at home on a Stripes CD, too—think "We're Going to Be Friends"). “Cold Mountain” provides White yet still another avenue for a musician apparently quite capable in any genre he chooses.
He’s not the only charmer, however, on this more subdued cousin to the “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” disc from a few years earlier. The beloved Alison Krauss (another Artist of the Aughts!) provides two exquisite, breathtaking tracks, which were both nominated for Academy Awards. My favorite cut of all, though, is a rousing a cappella chorale from the Sacred Harp Singers called “I’m Going Home.” But just about every selection, under the leadership of T Bone Burnett, is welcome.
The soundtrack’s only drawback is the stereotypical orchestral accompaniment from the film. In contrast to the authenticity of the folk songs, these doses of melodramatic, mediocre Hollywood syrup waste 15 minutes of an otherwise excellent compilation.
Favorite Track: "I'm Going Home"