Various artists ‘“The Lone Ranger” Wanted: Music Inspired by the Film' (Walt Disney Records)
Don't expect to hear Rossini's “William Tell Overture” on the soundtrack of director Gore Verbinski's new feature-length hipster take on “The Lone Ranger,” the one with Johnny Depp as Tonto (with a dead bird on his head) and Armie Hammer as the intrepid Masked Man.
Do expect some very cool alternative rock and Americana tunes on the 14-track “‘The Lone Ranger' Wanted: Music Inspired by the Film,” including new songs from Ben Kweller, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, Dave Alvin, Iron & Wine, Lucinda Williams and — get ready, Kemo Sabe — Iggy Pop.
I kid you not. The protopunkster covers, of all songs, the Gold Rush-era ballad “Sweet Betsy From Pike,” singing in a quavering baritone about the travails of a pioneer woman while acoustic and electric guitars and boinging Jew's harp accompany him. It's a more appealing arrangement than one might imagine.
“Holy Water,” is the dark and dangerous album opener, reminiscent of some of Woody Guthrie's more cautionary folk songs, only plugged in with warbling Hammond organ and lightning-bolt electric guitar instrumentation.
Potter turns country/folk-rocker on the excellent, gospel-tinged cover of “Devil's Train,” her vocals enhanced by slapback echo as she sings over locomotive acoustic guitar and drums. Bluegrass singer-songwriter and master fiddler Sara Watkins sings of early railroad struggles on the dramatic “Central and Union” as her bow flashes furiously.
The train theme keeps rolling through Alvin's cover of Hank Williams' mournful country classic “Lonesome Whistle,” complete with elegantly twanging pedal steel. Iron & Wine, aka Sam Beam, combines infectious percussion with some tasty dobro picking on the haunting “Rattling Bone,” and The Rubens fashion an affecting high-lonesome rocker called “Cowboy” that adds a perfect touch of spaghetti-Western whistling that would impress Ennio Morricone.
One of the album's standouts is Lucinda Williams' ominous original, “Everything But the Truth,” a midtempo folk-rocker adorned with throaty, layered slide guitars and the singer growling a warning that sounds angry and sincere. Another highlight is alt-rocking Gomez's cosmic acoustic-electric space-cowboy ode, “Butch's Ballad,” which actually tells of the tragic origins of the Masked Man himself, with “cold, hard silver” poetry.
Tonto, can you say “eclectic”?
— Gene Triplett