Instead of a period-perfect collection of vintage recordings, the soundtrack is like a mix tape by a music nerd compiling tunes from when rhythm & blues was becoming rock ’n’ roll. That makes more sense when you know that director John Sayles begins each film by putting together songs appropriate to his subject and then writing the script around them.
The disc jumps from harp-honking house rocker Honeydripper to blues ballad No Matter How She Done It sung by Mabel John to Hank Williams’s blues-based stomper Move It On Over. Lil Green’s smouldering version of Why Don’t You Do Right? leads into an acoustic cover of the gospel tune Stack O’ Lee by Keb’ Mo’ that segues into Danny Glover doing Going Down Slow. It seems like a crazy hodgepodge, but the sequence works and makes for an enjoyable listen. Having late R&B great Ruth Brown, the film’s inspiration, singing the closer is a very nice touch.