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Various Artists | Because of Winn-Dixie (OST) (Nettwerk)
This is the soundtrack to a film about a neglected little girl and her dog set in the American South so we're not expecting death metal or Motown greats, right? What we do expect, and get, is some Southern-tinged  strumming and yearning in a countrified way and recorded specially for this soundtrack. What we don't expect, or deserve, is ex-Smashing Pumpkin James Iha and Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne covering Splish Splash, and some truly gruesome pseudo-'80s disco-pop from The Beu Sisters, whoever they are. But, on the plus side, we have The Be Good Tanyas on form, an upbeat but lovely song by Leigh Nash of Sixpence None the Richer and something nice called Cabaret by Emmylou Harris. On the super-plus side we have Fly, a new Joe Henry-penned song by Shawn Colvin, a favourite in these parts who's been pretty silent of late. It does a pattering drums, walking pace thing similar to most of the songs here, but beefed up with piano, strings and slide guitar. It'll do nicely for now.
Add some gospel, The Finn Brothers (for some reason), the bloody Clapping Song by Shirley Ellis (for no reason), and there you have it, almost. The disc is rounded off by three plucky and orchestral bits, with some attractive added plaintive fiddle, composed by Rachel Portman, which are solid pluses too. A CD for which the term "mixed bag" could have been invented.

Jeff Cotton
October 2005