Picks and Pans Review: O Brother, Where Art Thou?

updated 02/05/2001 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/05/2001 AT 01:00 AM EST

Various Artists (Mercury)

Album of the week

The movie this music helped inspire is on track for a quick detour from the local Bijou to the corner Blockbuster. Here's wishing a happier fate for the album, which contains some of the most revelatory music to come out of Nashville in years. A far cry from the layered, formulaic country sound of today, these mostly traditional, all-acoustic work and prison, church and honky-tonk tunes are produced by T-Bone Burnett and performed by a wonderful assortment of musicians. All 19 tracks hold surprises; some, like "O Death," an Appalachian dirge in which Ralph Stanley negotiates with the Reaper, and the album's opener, "Po Lazarus"–a 1959 recording of an actual chain gang singing as they keep time chopping wood with their axes—astound.

Bottom Line: Rapturous

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