Because this kind of release begs some blog attention, simply for the fact of what it is: a meeting of highly buzzy but divergent artists, and the first soundtrack cut from a hotly anticipated movie (The Hunger Games, adapted from Book 1 of Suzanne Collins’s mega-popular young-adult series). On paper alone, it’s a reminder of why the award shows optimistically call the duet category “Vocal Event.”
And off paper? Solid soundtrack fare – hard to fault, doesn’t call much attention to itself. Swift bends to the earthier, eerier style of her collaborators, producing a lullaby whose minor cadences give lie to its lyrics’ assurance of peace and security. That tension plays especially well if you’re familiar with the book/movie’s storyline, but it works outside that context, too. Meanwhile, Swift’s ghostly sigh can’t quite match The Civil Wars’ for impact (ghostly sighing is like their #1 thing, after all), but her youthful timbre does nicely evoke the story’s protagonists, who are themselves young people ensnared in dark circumstances.
All in all, it makes for a pleasant preview of the T-Bone Burnett-helmed soundtrack, which – with expected tracks from Pistol Annies, Punch Brothers, The Decemberists, Carolina Chocolate Drops, The Secret Sisters, and Neko Case, plus another from Swift – could well end up being one of the year’s cooler albums. May the odds be ever in our favor.
Written by Taylor Swift, John Paul White, Joy Williams, and T-Bone Burnett