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Various Artists

Happy Texas soundtrack – 1999 (Arista Nashville)

Reviewed by Eli Messinger

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Reviewing a soundtrack before seeing the film, it's hard to know which tracks were picked by the filmmakers for their resonance with the movie and which were picked by Arista for the marketing opportunity. Many songs, including titles from Randy Scruggs, Kim Richey, Brad Paisley, Alison Krauss and Abra Moore have turned up on releases from the last year or two. Other cuts, from Cathy Fink, Lee Roy Parnell and Keb' Mo', Emmylou Harris, Pam Tillis and Shannon Brown are making their debuts.

The styles range widely, from the retro-swing and honky-tonk of Parnell and Mo', BR5-49, Robert Earl Keen and Brown, to the Nashville pop of Tillis (reprising Linda Davis' "After a Kiss") and Paisley. In between, Scruggs and Joan Osborne rock a bluesy tune from his latest LP, and Harris presents the set's folky jewel, "Ordinary Heart" (co-written by the ever-impressive Kimmie Rhodes). Perhaps the most puzzling inclusions are Moore's downbeat modern-pop "Happiness" and Yma Sumac's exotic 1950's vocal pyrotechnics. The former, by an Arista artist, smacks of marketing, the latter's quirkiness suggests the filmmakers' hand.

As a soundtrack these songs may work wonderfully. On its own, however, the CD is erratic and offers but a few new choice items.