Steve Earle is notoriously picky about soundtracks. A few years back, he wrote “Outlaw’s Honeymoon” for Niagara, Niagara; when the filmmakers wanted exclusive rights to the song, he told them to “kiss his Texas ass.” Earlier this year, Nashville’s favorite iconoclast pitched a fit when the producers of Pay It Forward, for which Earle contributed the lovely “Open Your Window”, reneged on a deal not to release a soundtrack album.
The soundtrack to the Sundance hit You Can Count On Me is an altogether different story. Issued on Earle’s own imprint, E-Squared, the disc doubles as a label sampler, offering a strong selection of previously issued tracks (excepting 6 Sting Drag’s version of Doug Sahm’s “Mendocino”) from the label’s roster both past and present. (Incidentally, “When I Fall”, a duet between Earle and his sister Stacey, was written specifically for the movie but rejected by the director. It eventually ended up on Earle’s Transcendental Blues album.)
Great tracks are served up from Marah (the lilting Boss-does-bluegrass “Far Away You”), Cheri Knight, Bap Kennedy, and the now-defunct V-Roys. Earle offers five tunes from his critically acclaimed bluegrass album with the Del McCoury Band, The Mountain. While the cuts are some of the best he’s ever written, they don’t necessarily fit the country-rock vibe of the other tracks.
On the whole, this is a great primer for those uninitiated with commendable catalog of the E-Squared label. For Earle fanatics, however, most of these tracks are familiar, making this collection necessary only for completists.