Sweet melancholy folk.
The music (of course!) in the Coen’s film of Inside Llewyn Davis was absolutely integral to its charm, and with images from the film spooling in my mind’s eye and music tantalisingly playing, half remembered, ditto, getting the soundtrack was a must
Oscar Isaac, on both CD and film is stellar. Though I found myself wondering what Oscar Isaac himself naturally plays and sounds like; as a clearly consummate actor, I suspect what we may have here is Llewyn Davis as musician and singer – Isaac himself may have quite different musical qualities. One of the hallmarks of the film is its loving steeping into the style of the times, both vocally and instrumentally – listening to Dave van Ronk’s playout track of Green Green Rocky Road, and the penultimate track of an unreleased studio recording of Dylan singing ‘Farewell’ in the context of the other 12 tracks shows this. There is a similar plangent, dourly tender quality to Isaac’s voice as in that early Dylan track – adding a nice little irony to the use of the Dylan at the end of the film, as a reminder of ‘then everything changed-– Llewyn Davis SOOOO close but not quite there!
I couldn’t QUITE go the full 5 star on the soundtrack, only because there are 3 tracks I skip over, as not to my ears for listening to outwith the film – the ‘joke’ Please Mr Kennedy, the very traditional old bouncy folk Roving Gambler, and The Storms Are On The Ocean (hope no one punches me for this – see the film!)
The rest are fabulous, as songs, as arrangements by the performing artists and T Bone Burnett, and as instrumental and vocal renditions.
But………I do agree with the CD sleeve note compiler that standout of many standouts is the rendition of Fare Thee Well (Dink’s Song) with Isaac and Marcus Mumford, who is co musical producer. This is ineffable! Isaacs darkly honeyed, anguished vocals woven with the sweeter, lighter quality of Mumford.
There are so many little teasers to performers of that time and slightly later, in this music – from the Peter, Paul and Mary of Stark Sands, Justin Timberlake and Carey Mulligan, the on-the-verge-of early Simon and Garfunkel on the Isaac, Mumford track, and the quality of an almost but not quite there early folky Dylan from Isaac himself. Stark Sands rendition of Tom Paxton’s The Last Thing On My Mind is also a real delight.
The album is definitely a fuller experience if you saw the film, but pretty darned fine on its own.