Must Love DogsThe soundtrack to Must Love Dogs, the new John Cusack movie, includes a wealth of twang-tinged tracks. The Epic Records release includes hits such as "When Will I Be Loved," from Linda Rondstadt, "This Will Be (an Everlasting Love)" and "First Cut Is the Deepest," from Sheryl Crow, and "What Kind of Love," from Rodney Crowell, co-written with Roy Orbison. There also are new songs from Rilo Kiley (the '50s-esque weepy ballad "Never"), Ryan Adams and the Cardinals (the harmonica-rich "Dance All Night") and Susie Suh ("Shell," from her debut CD reviewed here last week).

The new soundtrack for The Dukes of Hazzard movie from Columbia Records predictably is filled with classic Southern rock. This includes the Allman Brothers' "No Way Out," Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble's "Pride and Joy," Charlie Daniels' "The South's Gonna Do It Again" and Molly Hatchet's "Flirtin' with Disaster." There also are songs from Lynyrd Skynyrd, Southern Culture on the Skids, Blues Explosion, the James Gang, Willie Nelson (who plays Uncle Jesse in the film) and a remake of the Nancy Sinatra classic, "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" by Nelson's co-star, Jessica Simpson, (with Nelson on guitar).

The soundtrack for the teen superhero movie Sky High, from Hollywood Records, is really an '80s tribute album in disguise. A treasure trove for '80s music addicts, the disc consists mainly of modern (and mostly relatively unknown) acts covering songs from 20 years ago. Bowling for Soup adds a nasal twist to Modern English's signature "I Melt With You;" Vitamin C takes on the brooding first hit from 'Til Tuesday, "Voices Carry;" and Caleigh Peters' adds a teen-girl twist to the Cars' "Just What I Needed." And Christian Burns covers Tears for Fears' "Everybody Wants to Rule the World;" Elefant takes on the Smiths' "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want;" and the Cary Brothers sing a dead-on version of Spandau Ballet's "True."


Brandi Carlile Brandi Carlile

Honest, heartwarming and wonderfully wise … those are things you could say about this 23-year-old Seattle native's amazing major label debut.

Compared to everyone from Patsy Cline to Mary Margaret O'Hara, her whiskey-potent vocals, twangy guitar picking and chugging chords support songs that live in timeless nostalgia and heartache. The amazing thing about Carlile is that while she certainly strums and sings with a country flavor, she can't be pigeonholed as a country artist. Her music slips from folk to pop to country with a fluid stream of easy listening, catchy soul.

Maybe some of that amazing maturity comes because Carlile has been at this longer than her 23 years might imply. She appeared on the “local” stage at Lilith Fair as a teen, and released two albums on her own before Columbia picked her up.

And thank God the label did. The Simon & Garfunkel-esque guitar ripple of “Closer to You” sets a folky easy-ambling mood, and “Throw It All Away,” a Roy Orbison-esque big ‘50s dancefloor ballad, is one of the best singles of the year. Likewise, the falsettoes and simple minor key rests of “Someday Never Comes” and the beautifully langorous “In My Own Eyes” pull at the very soul.

Encompassing the sense of other modern country-popsters like the contemplative spirit of Kasey Chambers, arena-ballad sensibility of Amanda Marshall and roadhouse-rich harmonies of Marie Wilson, “In My Own Eyes” is the kind of album that anyone who loves a good, honest song sung straight from the heart will adore.