Scheinman, Leisz and Krauss have long accompanied Frisell on his ongoing journey into the country, bluegrass and folk which has characterized much of his music this last decade; not for nothing does All Hat sound like a proper group outing. Frisell has always been able to mine the simplest tune and extract unexpected riches; the main theme, for example, is visited four times and yet sounds radically different each time, going from the beautiful acoustic guitar version with shuffling drum beat and Scheinman's train-rhythm violin, to a Johnny Cash-style chug-along romp, to a most graceful Southern waltz. There are thirty one pieces ranging from thirty seconds to four minutes long, but there is a powerful continuity about this score. Frisell's music is often pictorial, and these sixty minutes are like an uninterrupted journey through changing landscapes, as sun and moon slowly chase each other's tails. One can easily imagine the wide plains and prairies, fields of wheat and small, nondescript towns either side of endless, straight highway. It's not all pastoral reverie however, and there are several interludes where Frisell's dark guitar-distortion rumbles, brooding and foreboding, like storm-heavy skies.
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All Hat is the soundtrack to the Leonard Farlinger film of the same name. Based on the brilliant novel by Brad Smith who also wrote the screenplay , Farlinger's film is set in Ontario and involves an ex-baseball playing ex-con, a transplanted Texas cowboy who farms and raises losing race horses, a gambling addict and tycoon who wants to take over the town's farms to build a casino and hotel. Inserted into this is Frisell 's score, built on his rootsy Americana side of fully fleshed out on his classic Nashville album with some of the same players: Viktor Krauss is here, as is Greg Leisz , and so are violinist Jenny Scheinman , drummer Scott Amendola , and Mark Graham on harmonica.