Take away the good looking cast and the fun plot line of ABC's megahit "Nashville," and you reveal its two most important characters; the city and the music. The chart-topping soundtrack is laden with love, loss, scandal and heartbreak. As expected, the sound is mostly contemporary country. Even after Music City's most sought after material gets cherry picked for the bigger stars, veteran producer T Bone Burnett attributes the album's quality to "a wealth of incredible songs still laying around."
That material is tailored to the persona of the characters. Ingenue Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettierre) is assigned all the straightforward pop. Not surprisingly, it includes several revenge anthems that feel like they were ripped right out of Taylor Swift's diary. Veteran country star Rayna James (Connie Britton) takes the reins on ballads dealing with divorce, regret and all issues that aging brings with it. The themes may be a bit worn, but the fresh melodies are infectious. From the bubble gum pop of Love Like Mine to the power rocking man diss Wrong Song, it is a cohesive and pleasing 40 minutes.
Thankfully, there are a few rough touches on the generally glossy material. There is some angry punk on Twist of Barb Wire and knee slapping bluegrass on Britton's Buried Under. She is one of the only cast members with no public singing experience, but you would never know it. The 45-yeasr old ex-"Friday Night Lights" star delivers recording quality performances throughout.
Claire Bowen (Scarlett O'Connor) is a quiet standout. Her voice is the most lilting and sultry and shines on The Civil Wars' cover If I Didn't Know Better.
With few exceptions, the material feels like it was written and produced taking dead aim at the chart's summit. Mission accomplished.