Lonesome highway drivetime provides the backbone for US indie flick about football

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This Month In Americana

“Bastard child of a randy AM radio and an insatiable eight-track cassette player,” explain The Slaughter Rule directors Andrew and Alex Smith in the sleevenotes, “this soundtrack was conceived on a Montana two-lane blacktop, in the back seat of a faded red ’74 Valiant.” While the US twins scouted for their movie’s soul via road trips to west Texas, Uncle Tupelo/Son Volt founder Jay Farrar’s music acted as constant companion and stoker of imaginations. Commissioning him for the score seemed sensible.

Anyone familiar with Farrar’s elegiac recent release Terroir Blues (reviewed in the last Uncut) will be heartened to know his contributions here tap into the same spirit: mood-setting country-blues instrumentals and sombre meditations. Like Ry Cooder’s work on Paris, Texas, he manages to define terrain both emotional and physical via economical use of notes and accents. In between, there are superb moments from Vic Chesnutt (“Rank Stranger”), Malcolm Holcombe (“Killing The Blues”) and Freakwater (“When I Stop Dreaming”), alongside the more familiar (Ryan Adams’ “To Be Young”) and the obscure (Uncle Tupelo’s 1993 reading of Gram Parsons’ “Blue Eyes”). And while The Pernice Brothers’ closing version of “Will There Be Any Stars In My Crown?” nearly makes off with the silverware, it’s Farrar’s intricate acoustic picking and occasional smotherings of distortion that lace up the spine.