Review

Dwight Yoakam's soundtrack for the gritty Western South of Heaven, West of Hell will only partially satisfy his fans. Although the album is nearly an hour long, half of the tracks are spoken segments from the film, and while this tactic has worked well for Quentin Tarantino's pop culture-brimming soundtracks, South of Heaven only serves to lose the listener with its ill-placed breaks and uninteresting dialogue. Aside from that rather major flaw, there are a handful of really good Yoakam tunes on hand including the loose, ambling opening track "Words" and a soulful version of "The Darkest Hour." The album also features a duet with Bekka Bramlett (Bekka & Billy), as well as the bluesy "The First Thing Smokin'" co-written with Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top and the pleading "What's Left of Me" co-written with Mick Jagger. While the album certainly has its strong points, it is no substitute for a complete Dwight Yoakam record. With the film release of South of Heaven, West of Hell, Yoakam has proven himself to be a fine actor and a fair director, but there are legions of country fans who will be happier when he steps out from behind the camera and back into the studio. ~ Zac Johnson, Rovi

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