As a collection of music, Elizabethtown stands tall. The lyrics generally deal with falling apart, picking up the pieces, and moving forward -- a theme that also plays a major role in the movie. Because of this, the music is tied together in a way that is uncommon in even the best soundtracks.
As a soundtrack, however, this CD is lacking. Some key songs from the movie are missing, and they're replaced by music that was buried in the film's background. (A second volume of soundtrack songs and a score were released, neither of which is currently available from EPFL.)
These facts make this album both a sub-par and superb soundtrack. A casual fan who wants to relive the movie will be disappointed, but this is a good record that honors the film's spirit. It's obvious that director Cameron Crowe -- a former Rolling Stone writer who is a music nut in his own right -- put a lot of thought and heart into choosing these songs.
While some songs are absent from the Elizabethtown soundtrack (notably The Temptations' "I Can't Get Next to You," Fleetwood Mac's "Big Love," and the live performance of "Freebird"), the CD focuses on others that I never noticed while watching the movie. "It'll All Work Out" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, "Don't I Hold You" by Wheat, "Hard Times" by eastmountainsouth, and "Shut Us Down" by Lindsey Buckingham are strong songs that deserve a serious listen or three.
The package is designed to look like the box of music that Claire (Kirsten Dunst) gives to Drew (Orlando Bloom). The theme fits, but the package lacks substance. With the exception of the inside-back cover (a quote by J. Bebe and R. Hammond, two members of the fictitious band Stillwater from Crowe's Almost Famous), the booklet doesn't contain anything worth reading or even looking at twice. Considering the importance Crowe places on the music in his films, this is a disappointing package.
Listen if you like: American roots rock like Tom Petty or Patty Griffin, Cameron Crowe movies, discovering that sometimes bad things happen in our lives so we can make room for what we really need.
If it were food, it'd be: a casserole your neighbor sends over after a loved one dies. It may not be what you want or what you were expecting, but when you're racked with grief because your whole world just fell apart, it fills you up the way few meals possibly could.