The soundtrack to Sam Raimi's new movie "The Gift" is a jumbled grab bag of country music: old-timey classics, cornball '60s weepers and wise updates of traditional styles. You don't, thank God, get any of that pressed-jeans, earnest cowboy pop known as "contemporary country."
This disc provides pleasant enough contrasts. Out of the vaults come Loretta Lynn's rousing "Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven" and George Jones' wistful "A Picture of Me (Without You)." The Souvenirs' two cuts show them to be well versed in retro-'50s shuffles. But a single listen of Lynn's "Mama Why," a kitschy, part-spoken-word track, was enough for me, and the same goes for Lee Hazelwood's "Trouble Is a Lonesome Town."
Death, always a country-music darling, is a recurring theme, and one gem is Amy Nelson's "In Case We Die," a loping, wry take on the "if we never see each other again" cliché. The real revelation is Neko Case -- her two tracks are gothic, spooky and gravely elegant, overwhelming everything that comes after.
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