Prime Cuts: A Prayer in Open D (Emmylou Harris), Kentucky Voice (Ricky Skaggs), The Song (Awaken Love) (Alan Powell)
Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes have often befuddled Christians. Riddled with incoherent plots, antiquated imageries, and muddled hermeneutics, taking a crack at these books has been a matter of grief for most prolific Bible scholars. What is most redemptive about the movie "The Song" is that it tries to decipher the themes of these two books and incarnate them in a gripping page-turning narrative, thus grounding them in the bearings of everyday lives. The story of "The Song" revolves around the life of an aspiring singer by the name of Jed King (played by Alan Powell of Anthem Lights). Jed tries most of his adult life trying to escape the shadows of his dad who is a legendary country singer. After reluctantly accepting a gig at a local vineyard harvest festival, Jed is love-struck by the vineyard owner's daughter, Rose (Ali Faulkner, TWILIGHT: BREAKING DAWN), and a romance quickly blooms.
Soon after their wedding, Jed writes Rose "The Song," which becomes a breakout hit. Thrust into a life of stardom and a world of temptation in the form of fellow performer Shelby Bale (Caitlin Nicol-Thomas, "Nashville," ABC TV), Jed's life and marriage begin to fall apart, proving even the wisest of men is a fool for love. Nevertheless, for those who are into Biblical trivia, one couldn't resist but pick up the connection between the movie characters and Song of Songs. Biblical allusions abound, for instance, with the name Jed King, just as Solomon was a king in Song of Songs, Solomon was also christened as Jedidiah (2 Sam. 12:25). Just as Solomon's paramour, in the Biblical book, has been referred to as the "Rose of Sharon," likewise Jed's wife was named Rose.
As with the soundtrack, the songs tie together some of the themes elicited by the two Biblical books as well as the movie. Boasting 11 original songs written specifically for the soundtrack, the album also features four classic hits with new arrangements. Since the story is set in the bluegrass state of Kentucky and since Jed's father was a country singer, the music tilts towards rootsy Americana in the musical veins of say latter recordings of Johnny Cash and Emmylou Harris. Speaking of Harris, her self-penned "A Prayer in Open D" is a poetic masterpiece with lines that call to mind the lament psalms with a favorite being "And the rock of ages I have known/is a weariness down in the bone/I used to ride it like a rolling stone/Now just carry it alone." Also finding inspiration in Biblical poetry is the Byrds' #1 "Turn! Turn! Turn!" which contains lyrics centered around Ecclesiastes 3. Since the movie finds its compass in Kentucky, Ricky Skaggs sings about the bluegrass state on the banjo and fiddle drenched "Kentucky" which name drops everyone from Bill Monroe to Loretta Lynn to Jesus Christ.
Alan Powell who fronts Anthem Lights in real life, a band that trumps on their fluttery pop covers, certainly is out of character in these more rootsy country excursions. He does shine magnificently on soundtrack theme song the jangly "The Song (Awaken Love)" and he sounds romantically sweet.with his duet with co-star Caitlin Nicol-Thomas "All I Wanna Be." However, he does sound downright awful on "Split the Baby," where he literally shouts his way through the song. Caitlin Nicol-Thomas sounds like a second rated cabaret singer on the saloon-inspired showbiz styled "Confetti." While NEEDTOBREATHE comes to rescue with their guitar swelling "Oohs and the Ahhs." Nevertheless, as with most soundtracks, many of these songs would receive a deeper coat of appreciation once when one has seen the movie. But as a stand alone album, it certainly has its heights and valleys.