Robert Earl Keen, Jerry Jeff Walker, others – An Unreal Dream: Soundtrack (2013)

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A forthcoming documentary promises to retell the story of an innocent Texan unjustly jailed for his wife’s murder. The soundtrack for An Unreal Dream only adds to the tale’s complex story of redemption.

The disc — due December 3, 2013, via Blue Corn Music — principally showcases the interwoven, delicately conceived work of Rich Brotherton and Chuck Pinnell. They had earlier collaborated on Dark River, which found a series of Austin-based musicians reworking Civil War-era tunes. The balance of An Unreal Dream is given over to a similar concept, as Texas musicians reimagining prison songs and spirituals. Some of the music appears in the film, other songs were inspired by its stunning narrative.

The best of them is perhaps Robert Earl Keen’s trembling, deeply emotional update of “Take This Hammer,” famously done by Mississippi John Hurt and arranged for this release by Brotherton and Pinnell. Jerry Jeff Walker, meanwhile, offers his own take on “Amazing Grace,” giving the song a hill country gait — yet retaining its heart-rendering sense of thankfulness, and of forgiveness. Elsewhere, Slaid Cleaves and Eliza Gilkyson take on the traditional “In the Pines,” while Jimmy LaFave and Tina Wilkins reimagine “Whispering Hope.”

The Al Reinert-directed An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story, which claimed the Documentary Spotlight Audience Award at this year’s SXSW, is set to premiere at 9 p.m. December 5, 2013 on CNN. Morton was eventually freed nearly 25 years after being wrongly convicted in 1987, thanks to the work of Houston-based pro-bono attorneys and the non-profit Innocence Project — and a DNA sample that proved someone else committed the murder.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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