Review: Album celebrates music of 'Inside Llewyn Davis'

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Posted: Jan 12, 2015 12:55 PM
Review: Album celebrates music of 'Inside Llewyn Davis'

Various artists, "Another Day, Another Time: Celebrating the Music of 'Inside Llewyn Davis'" (Nonesuch)

Fans of the Coen brothers' amused, affectionate portrait of the 1960s Greenwich Village folk scene — and of banjo-playing, guitar-plucking Americana in general — will relish this recording of a 2013 New York concert celebrating the music of the movie "Inside Llewyn Davis."

Produced by the Coens and their musical collaborator T Bone Burnett, the show brought together '60s folk veterans with younger musicians who have reworked the rich seams of 20th century American folk, bluegrass, country and blues. Gillian Welch, the Avett Brothers, Conor Oberst, the Punch Brothers and Lake Street Dive all perform, along with stars of the film including Oscar Isaac and Carey Mulligan, and rockers Elvis Costello and Jack White.

The result is a highly enjoyable mixed bag. A few of the 34 tracks on this two-disc set evoke the strait-laced brand of folk the Coens' sent up (Joan Baez delivers the least raunchy "House of the Rising Sun" imaginable), but overall this is a feast of relaxed artistry and low-key emotion. It's a set of songs — both standards and originals — exuding loneliness, longing and love.

There is some cherishable singing: Welch's laconic drawl on "Will the Circle be Unbroken?"; the Avett Brothers' plaintive strains; the sweet, Simon & Garfunkel-esque vocal harmonies of duo the Milk Carton Kids; and the powerhouse voice of North Carolina singer Rhiannon Giddens, equally effective on a blues standard and a storming Gaelic song.

Other standouts include Keb' Mo's take on Bob Dylan's "Tomorrow is a Long Time" and Decembrists' singer Colin Meloy's version of "Blues Run the Game," a fine song by semi-forgotten '60s folkie Jackson C. Frank.

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Follow Jill Lawless at twitter.com/JillLawless