Thursday, August 18, 2011


Well, I had a hard time imagining what The Dude would sound like making an album, and I have to admit the results are a surprise.  Knowing hotshot T-Bone Burnett was producing, I assumed some sort of acoustic roots record with songwriter and country leanings, and that's half-right.  Bridges does have a taste for Americana, and they chose two from the late Stephen Bruton, who had worked with them on the film Crazy Heart.  The actor was already friends with songwriter John Goodwin, who supplied three, and there's a Greg Brown number.  But there are some unique numbers, supplied by Bridges himself, and they remind me of that well-known hallucinatory scene in The Big Lebowski.

Okay, that's a bit flip.  But they are different, very calm, somewhat philosophical as well.  Burnett pours on the atmosphere, and Bridges sings his own likes such as "Here is my seat/I do not pay rent/I'm delighted/I'm buddhistly bent (sic)".  Now, that might sound stoner, but not only does it work for him, this subtle and soothing sound Burnett has crafted pulls you in.  Rosanne Cash helps out on three songs as a second voice, but it isn't a star turn, I barely recognized her,everybody is out for the greater good here.

Bridges does have the voice you'd expect, and it's friendly, warm and inviting, quite serviceable for this music.  Is he the real deal?  Pretty close, for sure.  If it was all his material, I'd say for sure.  His skill as an interpreter is good, I like this individual feel, the mellowness.  But... it's a lark in a way, helped by the fact he's so well-like and well-connected.  Burnett's about as good as you can get as a producer in this wider genre, although not infallible.  The John Mellancamp discs that he produced, for instance, are nothing special.  This is better, and it's a whole lot better than just about any other actor trying singing release.  In the end, there are people that might like to own this to listen to, and that's all anybody can ask from an album

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