I had been completely unaware that they were making a movie out of Kate DiCamillo’s children’s novel “Because of Winn-Dixie.” It was a fairly superb book about a girl and a dog and the things that ensued. The sort of book, though, that is hard to envision a full length movie being created for and kept interesting through out it’s entire run. I haven’t seen it and don’t plan to in the theaters, so I can’t comment on whether they succeeded or not.
I wouldn’t usually care about a soundtrack for a movie like this. Think back to the last time a sappy live action kid movie came out and the music that was on it. You might expect some Lindsay Lohan, some Jump 5, maybe a dash of pop country. You would not expect what “Because of Winn-Dixie” delivers.
I was initially drawn to the album because Leigh Nash, of Sixpence None The Richer fame, does a song titled “I’ve Got To See You Smile.” Sixpence ranks in my top five favorite artists and I’ve been fanatical about rooting everything affiliated with them that I can. When I noticed Emmylou Harris also submitted a track (and through diligent research have concluded that it’s a song that hasn’t appeared on any of her cds) my purchase of the album was sealed.
The album starts off strong with The Be Good Tanyas’ “Opal’s Blues.” It’s a country twinged song that showcases a fun banjo and some good vocal harmonies. The song does a good job, I think, of painting a good sonic representation of the feel of the novel with it’s pace, laid back energy level, and sweet, innocent vocals.
Leigh Nash’s song follows and feels like rays of sunshine. Her vocals are about on par with the Sixpence stuff, but the backing music feels a bit harsh compared to Matt Slocum’s arrangements and execution. This gap is widened further by how the music doesn’t really fit the book but Nash’s vocals do.
After that any of my own opinions on what music would be good with the book get blown to smithereens. The Beu Sister’s “Someday Somehow” has that ridiculous 80s feel to it that is out of place, and while sort of catchy, not really significant. “Sunflower” by Alice Peacock continues the happy trend of the album, and is a fine song to boot.
Then all of a sudden the producers of the cd lower the IQ level of the soundtrack and throw on “Splish Splash” and “The Clapping Song.” Of the two, the latter is a decent song, though not something I usually want to listen to. I never want to hear “Splish Splash” again. Ever.
For the final half of the cd the audience is assumed to be older again, with the highlight being Emmylou Harris’ “Cabaret.” It’s the song of the album. Her voice is so distinctive and completely masters whatever musical background is being laid down. This song is on par with some of the best she’s done. Her voice soars, transporting the audience to places only dreamed about. This cd could be purchased on the strength of this song alone.
The artist section of the cd concludes with the gospel song “Glory Glory” by Patrinell Wright and Gloria Smith. It’s high energy and ends everything on a happy note. They probably used this something to kiss the audience during the credits while they walked out. A fun song that may make it’s way on to a mix tape at some point.
After that, there is three tracks of original score by Rachel Portman. I guess it’s nice, but I’ve never been fond of producer’s habit of tacking on score after the artist’s material, as if it was an afterthought. Either give it it’s own cd or don’t bother releasing it.
I can’t really recommend this album, with the exception of the Emmylou Harris song. The Leigh Nash song was worth me having, but perhaps not worth much to your average listener. There were a few surprise songs that make the listen better (“Sunflower” and “Glory Glory”) but overall there’s too many skippers to justify the purchase.