Big Bad Love — Music from the Motion Picture Soundtrack

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In the interest of putting the consumer first, you need to know that this record contains two new Tom Waits songs. Yup, brand-new. So there’s that.

But the most important thing you should know about this sound track (to a film I have not yet seen) is that cover-to-cover, it creates an atmosphere that’s so palpable you’d swear you’re feeling, smelling and catching glimpses — in your sensory periphery — of the Mississippi North Hills region from which the music springs. Which is, of course, the sole purpose of a good sound track. By that measure, this is a great one, on par with that other atavistic sound track gem, O Brother, Where Art Thou? (only swapping “old-timey” for ancient-yet-timeless electrified country blues).

Where else are you going to find a single record that seamlessly, utterly seamlessly, lets Saturday night roadhouse bluesmen such as T-Model Ford, R.L. Burnside and the late Junior Kimbrough mingle with Tom Verlaine, the Kronos Quartet, Steve Earle and the aforementioned Waits?

Over the course of its 12 cuts, Big Bad Love lulls you like 3 a.m. (Verlaine’s “Sleepwalkin’”), rocks you like you need to be rocked (Asie Payton’s “I Love You,” Burnside’s version of Bob Dylan’s “Everything is Broken”) and sneaks into your unconscious (Waits’ “Jayne’s Blue Wish”).

The sound of Saturday night turning into Sunday morning, Big Bad Love may have a movie to go along with it, but it really doesn’t need it.

Chris Handyside writes about music for the Metro Times. E-Mail letters@metrotimes.com.

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