Rootsy O Brother… Soundtrack, Marshall Dyllon Debut Are New Country Releases

Soundtrack to Coen Brothers film breaks ground; Dyllon are Kenny Rogers protégés.

Joel and Ethan Coen, better known as the Coen Brothers, have always been groundbreakers in modern cinema, releasing such classic films as "Barton Fink," "Raising Arizona" and "The Big Lebowski."

With their latest film, the forthcoming "O Brother, Where Art Thou?," which releases December 22, the Coens are breaking musical ground as well. The soundtrack album, which leads new country releases this week, is out on December 5.

Set in the Depression-era South, "O Brother…" is a reworking of the mythological journey of Ulysses, starring George Clooney in the lead role. To soundtrack the film, the Coens brought in producer T-Bone Burnett and went to Nashville in search of "real" country music — the songs and sounds that formed the skeleton on which modern country music was built.

Bringing in such talents as Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, the Whites and Gillian Welch, they formed a musical tapestry based on the acoustic, a capella, and generally minimal sounds of early country music. With its basis in folk, gospel and blues, this is the music that would grow into modern bluegrass, swing and country, but back in the 1930s, it was still in its purest, most unadulterated form.

As the music came together, it began to shape the film, and some of the artists on the album appear onscreen as well. Members of the Fairfield Four make a cameo for their rendition of "Lonesome Valley," as does the Cox Family, for "I Am Weary."

The process of putting the album together was so inspiring that it led to an early decision to bring the music to life last May at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, former home of the Grand Ole Opry.

Artists featured on the product performed some of the soundtrack's highlights, including Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch and Alison Krauss, all together on "Didn't Leave Nobody But the Baby" (RealAudio excerpt) and Ralph Stanley's haunting version of "O Death" (RealAudio excerpt).

Those captivated by the music of "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" will have another chance to appreciate it on film, as the concert itself was captured by filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker for a future documentary.

(For more on the Ryman Auditorium show, click here.)

This week's other release of note is the debut album from Marshall Dyllon, a Nashville based group that joins the growing ranks of modern country boy bands. Enjoy the Ride is released on Kenny Rogers' label, Dreamcatcher Records, and features the single "Live It Up" (RealAudio excerpt).