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CD review: ‘Ain’t Them Bodies Saints’ soundtrack

Posted 8:17am on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013

A rising tide lifts all boats, goes the familiar saying.

That’s certainly proving true with the ascent of Dallas-based filmmaker David Lowery, who tapped some of North Texas’ brightest musical talents to supply his breakout film, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, with a soundtrack.

Singer-songwriter Daniel Hart, who performs on his own and as part of Dark Rooms, oversees the score, which is as forlorn and spare as his non-soundtrack work is lush and inventive. He worked closely with Lowery to sculpt the final product, as the two exchanged ideas throughout shooting.

Selections like Ruth and Sylvie or Fixer Upper are equal parts beauty and dread, minimally dressed with strings, horns, percussion and atmospheric sonic textures — the effect is frequently hypnotic, and always gorgeous.

Supplementing Hart’s 11 instrumental compositions are a handful of tunes from some of his local compatriots. The Theater Fire’s Curtis Heath turns up three times, once bearing only his banjo ( Blue Jay), another time by himself ( Appalachian Abduction) and lastly, in the company of John Graney ( Been Waiting). (Truth be told, Heath’s appearances here stoke the desire to hear the new Theater Fire LP.)

Elsewhere, Bosque Brown’s Mara Lee Miller, possessed of one of the scene’s most exquisite voices, joins forces with Greg Schroeder for the haunting Here We Are, while Denton’s Andrew Tinker offers up Ain’t Long Enough. Nonlocals contribute too: Keith Carradine, who co-stars in Saints, acquits himself well on The Lights.

Like the film itself, the soundtrack for Ain’t Them Bodies Saints is a singular experience, and one that will introduce the wider world to talent grown right here at home.

— Preston Jones

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