"Jesus, I'll never forget what you've done for me/You've set my soul free/I'll never forget how you've brought me out/No, no, I'll never forget"
— from "Jesus I'll Never Forget," performed by The Soul Stirrers
In the same tradition of the much–heralded O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack and the more recent score and soundtrack to Cold Mountain, the talented T–Bone Burnett took on the atypical task of producing and compiling the soundtrack to The Ladykillers, the Coen Brothers' modern retelling of the obscure 1955 comedy. I say "atypical" because Burnett's previous projects have utilized Americana and bluegrass as backdrops to the films they're associated with, while The Ladykillers is a surprisingly cohesive fusion of hand–clappin' traditional gospel, southern gospel, and even hip–hop—a first for Burnett.
But what ties the three soundtracks together is Burnett's proclivity for songs that highlight the sinful state of the human race and its chance at redemption. While some of the songs on The Ladykillers are originals, Burnett handpicked some gospel rarities from the '50s and '60s with a twofold purpose: to sample and rerecord them for proper big–screen assimilation in the 20th century, and to overtly capture the film's underlying theme: "We need to go back to God."
This theme infuses the whole album, from the opening "Come, Let Us Go Back to God" by gospel quartet The Soul Stirrers to the rousing "Yes" by the Abbot Kinney Lighthouse Choir. The former also gets a new—yet still quite reverent—treatment by Donnie McClurkin, who intones a vocal admonition to return to our Creator: "The earth is ablaze/The world is in a maze/…There's trouble in the air, and destruction ...1
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