If you have never watched this HBO series, you might wonder what kind of soundtrack a dark, comic drama about funeral directors might sound like. The short answer? It is pretty good!

Nina Simone’s “Feelin’ Good” is a perfect, spine-tingling opening. This track alone cries out for the listener to nestle in a darkened room, the only light coming from the blinking LEDs of the stereo, and a glass of Penfolds 2001 Koonunga Hill Chardonnay at hand. The clean, full taste of this deep golden wine, accompanied by Simone’s distinctive vocals lead you down a deceptively mellow and plaintive path. Just as you’re ready to be sucked in, deep raspy horns pick up, pulling you along with a seductive, twelve-bar-blues variation. Then when you’ve recovered your bearings, a layer of dulcet strings are added to the mix. I defy anyone to not be swaying rhythmically in their seats before the track is halfway through.

If you have only heard the Rolling Stones version of “Time Is On My Side,” you are in for a real treat. The Irma Thomas version here, has an earthier feel and a raw freshness, despite being one of the older songs on the album.

It is not just oldies here though. Radiohead’s haunting “Lucky” sweeps around you; Coldplay’s understated “A Rush Of Blood To The Head;”  “Cold Wind” by The Arcade Fire; Jem’s Dido-esque “Amazing Life”; and the freeform pop sparseness of “Direction,” by Interpol, all add to the whole.

From the opening sigh of “Breathe Me,” the delicate vocals of Sai draw you in. Even as it kicks up, swelling towards its conclusion, “Breathe Me” never loses its sense of self and is perhaps the best track on the album. “Transatlanticism” by Death Cab for Cutie runs it a close second. Again, reflecting the less-is-more aspect of the album.

“Everything is Everything,” by Phoenix and The Caesar’s “Don’t Fear The Reaper,” are fine, but fade in their present company. The biggest surprise is Bebel Gilberto’s “Angajou.” Here, the “Latin Project Remix,” is a perfect example of, “If it ain’t broke…”

The album ends with the perfectly quirky “Lonely Little Petunia,” by Imogen Heap. Even allowing for the near misses, this is an album that everyone should own, standing on its own as a masterful mood piece. Listening, you could well discover an artist that does not get their deserved radio play. Or better still, rediscover a long lost treasure.