ABKCO Records releases a gripping film soundtrack on vinyl!
The Devil All The Time – Music From The Netflix Film – ABKCO Records 8770-1 stereo vinyl, 47:52 ****1/2:
(Featuring: Saunder Jurriaans & Danny Bensi; Harry Melling & Pokey LaFarge; The Stanley Brothers; The Delmore Brothers;; The Browns; Bill Phillips; Ferlin Husky; Jimmie Rodgers; Sonny James; Skeeter Davis; Billy Walker; Wynn Stewart)
The ability of a film to engage its audience is rooted in storytelling and visual imagery. A key component of this is the soundtrack. Whether it is comprised of a select group of songs representing a certain time frame (like American Graffiti and O Brother Where Art Thou?”) or original scoring, music will provide momentum and shading to the narrative. In many cases, vintage and original music are combined to achieve a desired effect. That is certainly the case with the soundtrack to the Netflix movie, The Devil All The Time. Antonio Campos’ dark, violent post-WWII drama juxtaposes modern and classic country music in contextualizing Southern living and human experience. Randall Foster and Campos meticulously selected the music for the soundtrack.
Side 1 opens with the ominous strains of “Knockemstiff, Ohio”, by Saunder Jurriaans and Danny Bensi. The overall menacing vibe is countered by lyrical string accents. A more traditional song (”Washed In The Blood”) distills the serious religious undertones with two-part harmony (Harry Melling & Pokey LaFarge) and acoustic guitar. Switching to honky tonk, “Hillbilly Boogie” (Delmore Brothers) is uplifting and has some great rhythmic guitar work. Ralph Stanley’s golden tenor is simply wonderful in a 53-second gem of backwoods elegy (“Little Bessie”). After a plaintive Americana-infused instrumental ballad from Jurriaans and Bensi (“Orphans”), The Bells conjure up 1950’s small-town life on “The Three Bells”. It is an effective change of pace. “Put It Off Until Tomorrow” (a duet with Bill Phillips and co-writer Dolly Parton) succinctly captures the stoicism of love and disappointment. The side ends with the aspirational 3/4 time “Wings Of A Dove” by country legend Ferlin Husky.
Side 2 kicks off with the affable love song by Jimmie Rodgers, “Honeycomb”. Again, the casual religious comments integrate into the benign resonance. This tune was a staple on various radio formats in 1957. Another radio-friendly, loping-tempo hit, Sonny James” “Young Love” recreates the Southern 1950’s era of innocence which is oppositional to the impending malevolence of The Devil All The Time”. Following an ethereal, classical-influenced snippet (“Up Up Up”) which combines lyrical and brooding elements, it’s time for Skeeter Davis. Hailed as the first crossover female country vocalist (and a significant influence on Tammy Wynette and Dolly Parton), she sings and talks about the insincerity of men’s flattery…of course in waltz-time. Willie Nelson broke into the country music world as a songwriter. Billy Walker’s version of “Funny How Time Slips Away” is introspective country pop, but the conversational elements are quintessential Nelson. The album sequence is startling in transitions from genial radio songs to atmospheric soundtrack. “Sinners” brings the listener back into the storyline with its orchestral moodiness. With a Western swing arrangement, Wynn Stewart demonstrates the breezy grace of Bakersfield with violins, steel guitars and emotional singing. Pokey LaFarge captures old-school mayhem on another traditional number, “Banks Of The Ohio”. It may be the perfect dichotomy for this film. A hushed resonance imbues the last cut, “Backwards & Forwards”. It is haunting and beautiful.
The Devil All The Time – Music From The Netflix Film is an excellent companion piece to the film. It also succeeds as an independent musical statement.
Side 1: Knockemstiff, Ohio; Washed In The Blood; Hillbilly Boogie; Little Bessie (Live); Orphans; The Three Bells (Les Trios Cloches); Put It Off Until Tomorrow; Delusions; Wings Of A Dove
Side 2: Honeycomb; Young Love; Up Up Up; He Says The Same Things To Me; Funny How Time Slips Away; Sinners; Wishful Thinking; Banks Of The Ohio; Backwards & Forwards