Review: Various Artists, ‘Ghost Brothers of Darkland County’

Jul 1, 2013 9:00 AM, Mix, By Barbara Schultz


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Ghost Brothers of Darkland County album cover

You don’t necessarily need any backstory to appreciate the eloquent, powerful soundtrack to John Mellencamp and Stephen King’s musical Ghost Brothers of Darkland County (Concord Music Group). These are gorgeous, spooky, swampy tracks with deep roots in electric blues, beautifully matched to the stellar cast of singers assembled by producer/musical director T Bone Burnett. Vocalists include Mellencamp, Kris Kristofferson, Sheryl Crow, Ryan Bingham, Rosanne Cash, Neko Case, Taj Mahal, Elvis Costello (as the devil!), and real-life brothers Phil and Dave Alvin as feuding siblings embroiled in a bitter struggle.

This project came out June 4 in several forms that may include the music-only version; a words-and-music version with segments of dialog performed by actors Will Dailey, Matthew McConaughey, Samantha Mathis and Meg Ryan; a making-of mini documentary DVD; an iBooks digital interactive edition, plus (or minus) the libretto in printed book form. This is an ambitious project that—whatever size package you purchase—reveals new dimensions of Mellencamp’s talents as a singer/songwriter. His work has reached new emotional and musical heights since he began collaborating with Burnett. Read the book, watch the DVD, and definitely listen to the music.

Producer: T Bone Burnett. Engineer: Jason Wormer. Additional recording: Mike Piersante, Vanessa Parr, Ed Cherney, Matt Andrews. Dialogue and special effects editing: Paul Mahern, Neil Warner. Mixing: Jason Wormer. Studios: The Village, Electro Magnetic Studios (both in L.A.). “Truth” engineered by Paul Mahern, at Belmont Mall (Nashville) and mixed by Mike Piersante at The Village. Mastering: Gavin Lurssen and Reuben Cohen/Lurssen Mastering (Hollywood).

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