Based on New York Times number-one bestseller of the same name by Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies, the seven-episode HBO drama series starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley and Alexander Skarsgård follows three mothers in the tranquil seaside town of Monterey, California whose seemingly perfect lives unravel to the point of murder. Written for television and created by David E. Kelley (Picket Fences, LA Law, The Practice, Ally McBeal), the series was directed entirely by Jean-Marc Vallée (Dallas Buyers Club, Wild, Demolition), and premiered last month.
“Jean-Marc uses music like Jackson Pollock used paint,” comments Big Little Lies music supervisor Susan Jacobs, who also worked with Vallée on his previous two films. “There is a lot of truth in the music of Big Little Lies.”
Soul music features prominently in Big Little Lies. The soundtrack features up-and-coming London soul singer-songwriter Michael Kiwanuka’s “Cold Little Heart,” from his 2016 sophomore album Love & Hate. Soul sensation Charles Bradley contributes “Victim of Love” and “Changes,” both title tracks from his two latest albums, the latter of which is a Stax-ified cover of the 1972 Black Sabbath ballad. Texas native Leon Bridges provides his unique blend of gospel and soul on “River,” from Coming Home (2015), his debut album. Canadian funk/soul diva Kinny provides “Queen of Boredness,” a collaboration with electronica producer/DJ Diesler (né Jonathan Radford) from her 2009 album Idle Forest of Chit Chat. Irma Thomas earned the moniker “The Soul Queen of New Orleans” by releasing classic records starting in the late 1950s. “Straight From The Heart” is a b-side from her 1964 extended play record Time Is On My Side, the title track of which was famously covered by the Rolling Stones.
Folk, blues, rock and instrumental music are also well-represented on Big Little Lies: Music From The HBO Limited Series. Acclaimed blues/rock band Alabama Shakes provides “This Feeling,” the lead off track from 2015’s Sound & Color. “Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole” is taken from the 2005 debut self-titled album by folk-pop singer Martha Wainwright (daughter of Loudon, sister of Rufus). “September Song” is a solo piano composition by Danish songwriter Agnes Obel. The album also includes the original live version of “Nothing Arrived” by Villagers who originally recorded the track for a Spotify session four years ago. Vocalist Ituana delivers a breathy interpretation of the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” featured on a Vintage Café series compilation from 2007.
Big Little Lies: Music From The HBO Limited Series also contains its share of previously unreleased material. Villagers front man Conor O’Brien contributes “The Wonder of You,” written by Baker Knight while newcomer Daniel Agee performs “How’s the World Treating You,” written by Nashville legends Chet Atkins and Boudleaux Bryant. Cast member Zoë Kravitz, who plays Bonnie Carlson on the series, contributes “Don’t,” from the Leiber and Stoller catalogue. Kravitz is no stranger to either discipline, having acted in over two dozen film and TV productions, and releasing music with her genre-defying band Lolawolf.
Big Little Lies: Music From The HBO Limited Series
1. Cold Little Heart – Michael Kiwanuka
2. Victim of Love – Charles Bradley
3. Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole – Martha Wainwright
4. River – Leon Bridges
5. Queen of Boredness – Kinny (featuring Diesler)
6. September Song – Agnes Obel
7. This Feeling – Alabama Shakes
8. Changes – Charles Bradley
9. Straight From the Heart – Irma Thomas
10. Nothing Arrived (Live From Spotify London) – Villagers
11. Don’t – Zoë Kravitz
12. The Wonder of You – Conor O’Brien
13. How’s the World Treating You – Daniel Agee
14. You Can’t Always Get What You Want – Ituana