“The Music Of Nashville: Original Soundtrack” (Big Machine)
Among the characteristics the network TV drama “Nashville” gets right about its namesake city is the music. Guided by musical director T Bone Burnett, the new series presents a passable and often entertaining facsimile of country radio hits as well as samples of the less commercial side of the city’s music scene.
The hourlong evening soap features vocals by several of its main characters. The most convincing work comes from an upstart acoustic duo played by Clare Bowen and Sam Palladio, best represented on the album by “If I Didn’t Know Better,” and a rising starlet portrayed with convincing fierceness by Hayden Panettiere, who has received radio airplay for her pop-country dance tune, “Telescope.”
Actors Connie Britton and Charles Esten, as a veteran country star and her longtime guitarist, don’t have the vocal chops of the top singers in Music City. But they perform well enough onstage (especially on the ballad “No One Will Ever Love You”) while displaying their dramatic talents when the microphones are off.
The quietly conveyed “When the Right One Comes Along,” performed by Bowen and Palladio, features the kind of subtly emotional songwriting heard nightly by patrons of Nashville’s fabled Bluebird Cafe (recreated in exacting detail in the TV drama).
The biggest musical disappointment is the shaggy rocker Jonathan Jackson, who lacks the charisma of the others. On the soundtrack, he fails to sharpen the edge of “Twist of Barbwire,” an Elvis Costello composition.
Still, most of the recordings on the “Nashville” soundtrack rate with what Music City regularly produces — thereby achieving the show’s goal.
— Michael McCall, AP
“This Is 40 Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” (Capitol Records)
It doesn’t matter if you’re 40 or a fan of Judd Apatow, the soundtrack for the writer-director’s latest film, “This Is 40,” is worth checking out.
Among its 16 tracks are new and original songs from Fiona Apple, Norah Jones, Graham Parker and Lindsey Buckingham, plus new takes on old songs by Wilco and Ryan Adams.
It’s a folksy blend of indie tunes, and as the film deals with the challenges of marriage and midlife, there are some heart-wrenching ones in the mix.
Jones’ track is a standout, with a happy, dancing piano that contradicts its stark refrain: “Always judging, never loving.” Another highlight is among three new songs Buckingham contributes: “Sick of You” is a showcase for his signature guitar melodies.
Apple is dramatic and demanding on the string-tinged “Dull Tool.”
There’s bright love on the album, too, most cheerfully on Wilco’s “I Got You,” a new version of the band’s 1996 song with Jones on backing vocals, and Yoko Ono’s fairytale love song, “Yes, I’m Your Angel.”
Songs by composer-producer Jon Brion, Paul McCartney, Loudon Wainwright III, the Avett Brothers and Paul Simon round out the album.
— Sandy Cohen, AP Entertainment Writer