One of the joys of any week for me is to log onto Vulture and read Max Weiss’s updates on the TV show Nashville. This is useful for U.K. fans, as we’re half a season behind you guys in the U.S. We of course know what happened in the middle of Season 5, the first season to be aired on CMT, as we have access to the Internet. Thus we know that Rayna [REDACTED TO AVOID SPOILERS] and that in one episode Juliette [REDACTED AGAIN]. You of course know both of those things.
For reasons U.S. fans know and U.K. fans will discover when the half-season finale airs at the start of August, Maddie and Daphne intone a version of “A Life That’s Good” at the end of this eleven-song set. The first song is a tune sung by the cast called “You’re Mine”, which drifts along like a summer breeze.
One aspect of the show – my favourite aspect, in fact – that is spoiler-free is the music. Big Machine brings out a regular stream of music from the show (this is the ninth official release), which has featured songs written by Kacey Musgraves (“Undermine”), Hillary Lindsey (“Telescope”) and Ashley Monroe (“A Life That’s Good”).
Chris Carmack (the hot sexy straight guy who plays the hot sexy gay guy Will Lexington), sings “By Your Side”, a soaring song about pushing through in spite of the woes of life (and by gosh there are a lot of woes on Nashville…). The strings are great here, as if Simon Cowell is producing a country song (can you imagine…).
Johnnie Jackson, the down-on-his-luck Avery Barkley, sings “Eye of the Storm”, which opens with a riff and carries on in that vein. Poor Avery can’t catch a break since he’s caught in the hurricane that is Juliette Barnes. Elsewhere, Will Chase’s character Luke Wheeler sings “Wide Open”, a contemporary country song with the sort of tune Luke Bryan or Justin Moore would sing about going places. Wheels up!
Joseph David-Jones, who plays Clayton, a friend of Maddie’s, sings two songs (“Before You” is the one on the eleven-track version) in a very soulful manner which will alert all casting directors in need of such a voice and face. No wonder Maddie took a shine to him.
To me, the real stars of the show are Rayna’s kids, Maddie and Daphne Conrad, played by Lennon & Maisy Stella. “Back Again” continues the trend of having the girls sing harmonies over soft acoustic backing (it ain’t broke, so keep the record spinning).
Lennon wrote “In Love”, a sophisticated track on the deluxe version which has five more tracks, and “Saved”. She takes the second of these solo, in a great arrangement which suits her voice. Maisy joins in on the bonus track “Your Best”.
The ‘will they, won’t they’ pair of Gunnar and Scarlett take “The Hell of It Is”, a rocking song by their band The Ex’s with a great chorus to which the studio version does justice. Sam Palladio sounds great as Gunnar, and Clare Bowen is predictably terrific as Scarlett, who has come a long way from Natchez. The elder statesmen of the show, Deacon and Rayna, duet on “Can’t Remember Never Loving You”, which is a fully fleshed-out recording which fans of the show will play again and again.
The old church song “I’ll Fly Away” is sung by Jessie Early, for reasons U.S. fans know. Rhiannon Giddens, who is one of the most important musicians of our time for reasons I need thousands of words to fully describe, plucks the banjo on the traditional “Sourwood Mountain”, a traditional song arranged by Tim Lauer, and leads the choir for the gospel song “Can’t Nobody Do Me Like Jesus”.
Once again the songs picked for the soundtrack album are a mix of the tender and the amplified, with the best sides of each singer showcased. Five cast members are continuing their summer tour (they never stop working!) around the world, singing the hits as themselves, so if you want to hear Chris Carmack ask if there are any fans of Will Lexington, or better still join in a mass singalong on “A Life That’s Good”, go see Johnnie, Clare, Sam, Chris and Charles on the road this summer as the U.K. slowly gets back in sync and finds out that Deacon [REDACTED], Gunnar and Scarlet [REDACTED REDACTED] and poor Bucky and Glenn both get a bum steer again.
Listen on Spotify below: