The Song Album: Music from the Motion Picture is inspired by the timeless themes of love and meaning found in Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon. The American roots album features 11 original songs, as well as three new recordings from the fetaure film, The Song. The tracks come from iconic artists like Ricky Skaggs, Emmylou Harris, The Byrdsí Roger McGuinn, along with popular Christian group NEEDTOBREATHE.
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The Song (Awaken Love) - Alan Powell
Son of a King - Alan Powell
Kentucky Voice - Ricky Skaggs
Split the Baby - Alan Powell
You Made Me Love You - Taylor Walling
Can't Hold On (Jed) - Alan Powell
I Love You Truly - Jill Paquette
Confetti - Caitlin Nicol-Thomas
All I Wanna Be - Alan Powell, Caitlin Nicol-Thomas
Falling Like Stars - Caitlin Nicol-Thomas
Ooh's and Ahh's - NEEDTOBREATHE
A Prayer in Open D - Emmylou Harris
Chasing After the Wind - Alan Powell
Turn, Turn, Turn (To Everything There Is A Season) - Roger McGuinn, Emmylou Harris, Ricky Skaggs
What Those Feelings Sound Like| Posted October 03, 2014
I've heard it said that music is what our emotions sound like. And by that logic, King Solomon of the Bible--the wisest man who ever lived--was a pretty emotional guy, as evidenced by the Song of Solomon (as well as his emotive reflections in Ecclesiastes and the Proverbs).
Solomon's life was the inspiration for the incredible new film, The Song, which released Sept. 27 nationwide. It stars Anthem Lights' Alan Powell as lead character Jed King and Ali Faulkner as his wife, Rose, as well as singer/fiddler Caitlin Nicol-Thomas as his touring partner (and temptress), Shelby Bale. And the music therein tells that story well.
Much like Switchfoot wanted people to see the Fading West film before they heard the album of the same name, The Song soundtrack is at its most poignant when you've experienced the film. That said, the songs on here can definitely stand on their own.
The soundtrack puts its best foot forward right away with its title track, "The Song (Awaken Love)," the song Jed King writes for his wife the day after they're married. It's the song that propels the character to stardom, and it employs a great Nashville/Americana sound with mandolin, strings, and acoustic strumming that later explodes into an uptempo declaration of love.
Lyrically, "The Song" is a pure poem of affection from husband to a wife, celebrating the fact that as a couple, they were "taking their time, doing things right," and that "the waiting was worth it" with regard to their purity. Now that they're married, he says, "Tonight I'm not gonna just kiss you goodnight." In much the same way as the source text--the Song of Solomon--Powell sings, "Your eyes like the dawn / You are beauty / The touch of your skin consumes me."
There are so many biblical references in these songs, and I won't go into them all here, whether they are direct quotations from Solomon's writings or artful paraphrases. "The Song" foreshadows the events of the film, with the powerful ending line, "Love is the power that heals." Not wanting to be a spoiler, I'll leave it there.
"Son of a King" is the first song we hear in the film, finding Jed King playing acoustically in a small venue. This short (90 second) song basically is Jed airing his family dysfunction in aggressive acoustic style. "Yeah, I was born the son of a king / You don't know what that means, do ya? / Yeah, you might say it's living a dream / Somehow dreams have a way of coming true like you don't want them to." Living under the shadow of his famous father, who had made quite a mess of his life in earlier years, fueled this passionate opener.
"Split the Baby" will make people who haven't seen the film curious, for sure. This song happens during one of the funnier moments of the movie, as Jed takes time during a harvest party performance to simultaneously woo Rose and humiliate her sexually motivated ex-boyfriend (who is in attendance at said harvest party). The song features an uncharacteristically raspy and bluesy Powell singing over a lone banjo.
"You Made Me Love You" is another short track that serves as the background to Jed and Rose's budding romance. Taylor Walling, an indie singer-songwriter who is part of the duo The Wallings Jr is shown in the film playing this tune live while Jed and Rose are on a date. It's a sweet, playful number that lends to the innocence of the pair's romance. As things get more serious between the pair, the pining "Can't Hold On" by Powell demonstrates the best kind of anguish.
The sweetness and innocence is abruptly interrupted with loud electric guitars as an alt-country stampede hits in the form of Caitlin Nicol-Thomas's "Confetti." Nicol-Thomas, who plays the seductive bad girl singer Shelby Bale (who becomes Jed King's opening act), plays all her own fiddle parts and sings a suggestive song about how she's "aching to get undressed" and sings that she wants her audience to "do what you want without an ounce of shame."
The presence of the fiddle in Shelby's songs lends to Charlie Daniels' "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," and certainly points to a devilish influence.
With "All I Wanna Be," there's a double meaning going on, where Jed's singing the ballad to his wife, asking questions about why he's doing what he's doing--which takes him away from Rose and his son, Ray. Shelby, on the other hand, is singing this song to Jed: "All I wanna be is with you." There's a great change of pace fiddle solo that speeds things up and leads into an octave jump with Jed nearly screaming, "All I wanna be is with you! / I want your love/ I want your touch / All I wanna be is with you!"
The creepy "Falling Like Stars" is like the theme song to Jed's hypnosis and compromises. In what sounds like a marriage of country/Americana and the lounge singer-style ballad, Nicol-Thomas's Shelby sings about her intentions towards Jed: "I'm obsessed, I must confess / I don't care if it's wrong or right / Under this moon you belong to me." Nicol-Thomas' voice is as pure, emotive and spot-on as her incredible fiddling and tremendous acting.
The sound of country guitar, violin and the humbled broken voice of Powell as Jed drives "Chasing After Wind," a song that leaves you feeling simultaneously sad and hopeful. Pulled from the "what's the point" vibe of Ecclesiastes, Jed asks in song, "Why should you be if no one's there to see / All of your deeds are raindrops in the sea / What do we mean if nothing has meaning?"
It's a soothing feel of a song, despite the gut-wrenching, honest, searching lyrics. At the end of the song, the band abruptly drops out, leaving an emotional Jed nearly screaming, "Why should I sing if nothing has meaning?!" It's a raw, powerful moment in the film, and translates well to the recording.
While the cast's performances are incredible in their own right, what strengthens this soundtrack is the stamp of approval given to it by the recording artists who support it with additional music. GRAMMY winners Ricky Skaggs and Emmylou Harris--both icons of folk/country/bluegrass in their own right--help paint the landscape of The Song with their contributions.
Skaggs' driving-in-the-pickup-with-the-windows-down "Kentucky Voice" is an inspirational ode to the state in which the film is based, and even gives a nod to Solomon's writings in the lyrics. Harris' one-of-a-kind voice presents the passionate "Prayer in Open D," which uses simple acoustic guitar finger-picking, upright bass and slide guitar to paint that "hit rock bottom" kind of feeling that permeates some of the film's more poignant moments. Christian music veteran Jill Paquette also provides a tender, lullaby-like rendition of "I Love You Truly" (originally written at the turn of the 20th Century by Carrie Jacobs-Bond), and NEEDTOBREATHE presents the ominous sounding "Oohs and Ahhs" from their album, The Reckoning.
The Byrds' classic song, "Turn Turn Turn," referenced many times throughout The Song--of course, because of its Ecclesiastes-fueled lyrics--gets the Grand Ole Opry treatment. The Byrds' lead singer, Roger McGuinn, rearranged his band's hit, and joined Harris and Skaggs on the classic tune. It's a great song, and fans of the movie now have a new appreciation for it, as it's essentially the story in a nutshell.
While there's plenty to love with this version of the song, I was disappointed that Powell's rendition from the film was omitted. It was so powerful, and it was great how he started quietly and tenderly, eventually layering in a band with a big finish. The McGuinn/Harris/Skaggs version is very good, of course; it just doesn't connect with the story quite like the Powell version.
That's probably my only complaint with the soundtrack, period. Well, that, and the fact that the moody, revealing song from singer-songwriter Cheyenne Marie Mize in the film isn't included as well. (It's the song where she profoundly sings, "You call me beautiful, but you don't know how ugly I can be.")
Those who were patient or curious enough to stay to the end of the credits were treated to one final song from Powell, "End of the Matter," which presents the Gospel message and serves as an epilogue of sorts for the story. In what is nearly an a cappella track--save for a few acoustic guitar strums to change keys a few times--Powell nearly whisper sings as he talks about hope that comes through Jesus: "The only hope that we have is the only Son that He did send / So at the end of the matter / His will be done not mine / He breaks the seals, fulfills the signs / Makes everything so beautiful / It's all gonna be so beautiful / In His time." It's a peaceful, restful, comforting end after so much turmoil.
Closing Thoughts: The Song soundtrack is an incredible album in its own right. When it's not presenting dramatic, moving songs from the plot of the film, it's showcasing some heavy hitters in country/bluegrass/folk lore. The album is a beautiful union of and tribute to the wisdom poetry of the Bible and the Americana musical genre. The songs are delivered with such honesty and raw emotion that you can believe what's being sung, and in many cases can relate to it.
Truth is truth, and The Song has found a way to communicate the wisdom of scripture without necessarily doing the thinking FOR the audience. That's a feat within Christian music, and even more so within a Christian film. We understand the message because we can feel it. It rings true in our human experience.
We already knew Alan Powell could sing. He's fantastic with Anthem Lights. But with The Song, we're treated to a range and a depth as an artist we hadn't seen before. And I'm probably not alone in hoping we see a solo project of some form is in his future. (Americana would be nice, but not likely given his personal musical tastes.)
If you haven't seen The Song, you'll enjoy this album, and probably be moved by it. It still tells a story, as you can hear in the music and in Powell's delivery a searching, a smittenness, confusion, hopelessness and humility. I'd still recommend that you go see the film, though, because in a way, these songs get unlocked, and bring back all sorts of emotions the movie draws out of people who see it.
Song to Download Now:
"The Song (Awaken Love)" (Get it on iTunes here.)