Inside Llewyn Davis Soundtrack Review

Inside Llewyn Davis

Various Artists

inside llewyn davis

It is kind of hard to review a soundtrack without seeing the movie.  The context may be very important for a soundtrack.  Certain songs may be felt more deeply when accompanied by the attached story.  So, with that caveat in place, I am going to go ahead and review the original soundtrack for Inside Llewyn Davis.  I kind of figured it wouldn’t hurt, since a lot of people may want to pick up the whole album on the strength of the Oscar Isaac and Marcus Mumford rendition of the traditional “Fare Thee Well”.  In addition, many people just don’t see many movies, particularly Oscar-bate like Inside Llewyn Davis, so a review may be the only exposure they get.

The first thing that should be pointed out is that the soundtrack is not as instantly accessible as a whole as “Fare Thee Well” would have you imagine.  For all the problems I have with Mumford and Sons, Marcus Mumford certainly has a knack for performing music in an instantly-ingratiating way.  Mumford does a great job of keeping “Fare Thee Well” light, especially in relation to the Oscar Isaac solo version later on the soundtrack, which is a little heavy-handed for my tastes.

Which leads to my next point.  Despite my preference for the Mumford and Oscar Isaac version of “Fare Thee Well”, Isaac’s vocals are very very impressive on his tracks.  I did some brief research to try and flesh out Oscar Isaac’s (who is the star of the film for those not familiar) musical background.  I couldn’t find anything, making his performance all the more jaw-dropping.  Isaac’s vocal work on traditionals “Hang Me, Oh Hang Me” and “The Death of Queen Jane” are really something to marvel.  It’s like he has been singing folk music for fifteen years.

Isaac’s tracks contribute a lot to the success of the soundtrack, but there are several other notable contributions.  “Five Hundred Miles” sees Justin Timberlake and Carey Mulligan team up to tackle an old Hedy West classic, and it turns out very pleasant even if not bringing too much new to the table.  “The Last Thing On My Mind” brings together The Punch Brothers and Stark Sands to cover the 1964 Tom Paxton Recording.   And, of course, Bob Dylan’s studio version of his long-unrecorded song “Farewell” is a great addition to any collection of folk material.

Most everything is really pleasant.  “Please Mr. Kennedy” is a little grating, but at least it gives Adam Driver an appearance on the soundtrack.  Other than that, I don’t see any reason “Fare Thee Well” and “Green Green Rocky Road” needed two versions included.  Both are great, but I don’t need an alternate.  Don’t look for anything groundbreaking, but if you want a nice easy listen, this is an album worth checking out, and there is very little to offend.

8/11

Can’t Miss:  “Fare Thee Well” (Isaac and Mumford version), “Green Green Rocky Road” (Isaac version), “Hang Me, Oh Hang Me”

Can’t Hit:  “Fare Thee Well” (Isaac solo version), “The Roving Gambler”,