Carter Burwell's True Grit is the soundtrack to the Coen Brothers' latest film of the same name, depending how you look at it either a remake of the 1969 John Wayne western, or an adaptation of Charles Portis' original novel.
The film follows the story of Mattie Ross, who sets out to avenge the murder of her father, a remarkable mission for a 14 year-old girl and a crotchety one-eyed US Marshal (Geoff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn)to embark on .
Arguing that only the church could give a 14 year-old girl the sheer temerity to confront a bunch of armed outlaws, Burwell decided he must look to 19th-century protestant hymns to find inspiration for his original score, "the songs Mattie would sing if she had time for such frivolity". The result is a beautifully paced melodic score that starts out with simple church piano pieces, and builds to fuller, fleshed out orchestral pieces as the story reaches its conclusion.
It's impossible to pick out individual pieces from this soundtrack, there are few tracks here that you might call songs, few that would stand being listened to on their own. If you simply want to get a feel for the music here though, check out the Iris DeMent version of Leaning On the Everlasting Arms, the 1888 hymn that was the touchstone and main inspiration for the whole score.
Otherwise, of the earlier tracks River Crossing is a fine example, while of the later, more climactic scenes, One Against Four or LaBoeuf Takes Leave are soaring, dramatic tracks.
I haven't seen the film yet, although as a Coens fan I fully intend to, so I can't truly comment on how it compliments the action, but the whole feel of this soundtrack seems to play perfectly for an epic, sweeping western. Unfortunately the True Grit OST doesn't meet the stringent requirements to be eligible for an Oscar nomination (it relies too heavily on existing music), but if it did it would surely be right up there in the running.
Final Score: 82%