Walk the Line

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PHOTO COURTESY 20TH CENTURY FOX/ZUMA PRESS
Actors Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon don't sound precisely like Johnny Cash and June Carter, whose songs they perform in the hit movie Walk the Line—his voice is higher than Johnny's deep rumble, hers a tad too perfect for June's lovably hoarse holler.

None of that matters, because each gets the spirit just right. Joaquin captures the vulnerability and granite stoicism of the Man in Black, while Reese nails June's sass and spunk. Elsewhere in the movie, Tyler Hilton channels the young Elvis Presley, Waylon Payne replicates Jerry Lee Lewis' peacock strut and Shooter Jennings essays his dad's mournful "I'm a Long Way From Home." (Only Johnathan Rice's Roy Orbison flies wide of the target.)

All of the above see their star turns immortalized on this soundtrack album, produced by O Brother, Where Art Thou? mastermind T Bone Burnett and featuring musical assists from real-life Cash associates Norman Blake and Cowboy Jack Clement. Just how necessary it is to own this when the immortal original versions of all these songs are readily available is up for debate, but its makers' passion and devotion to making musical history spring to life is not.

—Chris Neal

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