Original Cast Recording – Blaze

When planning a music-related film, please cast a lead actor with impressive singing chops. Sissy Spacek as Loretta Lynn will probably always be the shining example of this effective trope, but don’t forget Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash or, from an otherwise skippable film, Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams. This applies to works of fiction, too, considering Bradley Cooper’s role in pointing new ears to the works of Lukas Nelson and others with the A Star is Born soundtrack.

The latest argument for this comes via folk musician Ben Dickey, the leading man of Ethan Hawke’s Blaze. He plays title character Blaze Foley, the troubled yet brilliant songwriter behind “Clay Pigeons,” “If I Could Only Fly” and other gems. The soundtrack, issued by Light in the Attic Records, captures the musical promise of Dickey and his supporting cast as they reimagine songs by and about a true modern-day outlaw.

Alia Shawkat plays Foley’s significant other, author and Whitesburg, Ga. resident Sybil Rosen. She’s also quite the singer, as heard on a duet with Dickey titled “Blaze & Sybil’s Lullaby.” Speaking of Whitesburg, the real-life Blaze and Sybil met, married, and lived in a “tree house” in Carroll County in the ’70s, so a bulk of the film is set in the West Georgia region.

We already knew that Alynda Segarra of Hurray For the Riff Raff can sing folk and country music with the best of them, so she was definitely a good pick to play Blaze’s sister. On the soundtrack, she and Dickey sing Atlanta blues legend Blind Willie McTell’s “Pearly Gates” to their on-screen father, Kris Kristofferson. She also closes out the soundtrack and film with Lucinda Williams’ tribute to Foley, “Drunken Angel.”

Without these recordings, a really solid biopic might get lost in the shuffle with the before-mentioned films about male leads balancing love and addiction. Instead, these brilliant songs by Foley allow a journey shortened by his 1989 murder to rightfully shine on the big screen.

The Midtown Art Cinema showed Blaze back in late September and early October. No word yet on if it’ll return to town or when we’ll get a DVD/blu-ray release.

Original Cast Recording
[Light in the Attic]