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The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond

reviewed by Robert Keeley

T Bone Burnett has made a name for himself as someone who knows how to produce albums that capture the spirit of a film. He is not a film score composer like, say, John Williams (Star Wars) or Howard Shore (Lord of the Rings). Burnett’s music occupies that ground in the middle of rock, country, gospel, and folk. He weaves all of these influences together to create soundscapes that evoke a certain type of longing, something that speaks to the American heartland. His music has enhanced films like O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Crazy Heart, and now, The Hunger Games.

Burnett is able to work with artists as different as Arcade Fire, Taylor Swift, The Decemberists, and Kid Cudi; he produces songs by them that honor their individual artistry while sitting comfortably next to each other on the same album. The album The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond is not a soundtrack of the movie; it is, rather, songs that are inspired by the story and help set the stage for the film.

Burnett’s Christian faith seeps out of these tracks in a subtle way and the album is full of artists who reference faith often in their music, either from the perspective of a believer or of a seeker. The themes match those of the book and film—a deep sense of longing and insecurity, of being on the run, in danger, and looking for security, things that those longing for God often feel. (Universal Republic)

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