The mark of a great soundtrack is one that doesn't need the visual associations of the film to stand up as good music, and this one fits the bill. I haven't seen Cold Mountain (though I read the book), but this is an excellent soundtrack, evoking a spirit of Appalachia that is crucial to the story. Alison Kraus' lovely voice highlights the two Oscar-nominated songs, "The Scarlet Tide" and "You Will Be My Ain True Love" (written, respectively, by Elvis Costello and Sting, the latter providing harmony vocals as well). And Jack White of the White Stripes shows his diversity and respect for his country and blues roots with five songs, including his own composition, "Never Far Away". (White also produced Loretta Lynn's new "comeback" album, "Van Lear Rose".) A host of traditional artists join in, the most interesting of which are the Sacred Harp Singers at Liberty Church, whose Appalachian "shape singing" is unique and powerful. The soundtrack successfully mixes traditional tunes with contemporary songs done in the traditional style, and the selections from Gabriel Yared's score are equally evocative. Not coincidentally, perhaps, it is the best soundtrack I've heard since "O Brother Where Art Thou", also produced by T Bone Burnett. I recommend it to any fan of traditional Americana, regardless of whether they have seen the film.