I’ll be honest, the type of CD I usually buy falls under one of two categories: techno or loud angry rock music. Thus, I was filled with a deep and profound sense of dread as I approached this CD. Enya? k.d. lang? These names aren’t ones usually associated with either techno or loud angry rock. No, the titles of the tracks on this CD sounded more like the music of the Dark Side, the music of Lilith Fair, or New Age hippie teahouses. After arranging various religious wards around my computer to protect me from whatever foul spirits might be released, I nervously placed the soundtrack in the CD tray and hit play. Imagine my profound surprise when I actually enjoyed what was coming out.
Being a soundtrack from a romance movie, the songs on this CD are either sappy lovey-dovey in nature or contemplative, angst-filled numbers (usually leaning towards the angst-filled). Yet none of the tracks swing too far in either direction, and thus avoid being melodramatic or inaccessible.
The CD opens with a catchy female alternative rock number by Amanda Ghost. Emotional without being overpowering, the song is fairly indicative of the tone of the entire soundtrack.
Enya offers up, well, typical Enya. “Only Time” is standard new age Enya fare: mellow, dreamy and full of synthesized harp notes and women singing “ooooooahhhhhhhh.” It’s a little too mellow, in fact, blending into the background far too easily.
BT’s track, “Shame,” is more mainstream alternative rock stuff, full of heavy guitars, raspy male lead vocals, and random synthesizer effects. While good, the problem is that there’s nothing really original about it — we’ve heard it all before and it’s hard to distinguish it from the sounds of other bands a la Soul Asylum or the Goo Goo Dolls. A well done if unmemorable track.
Stevie Nicks brings a track straight out of the ’60s, complete with feel-good guitar strumming and xylophone and chime accompaniment. Nicks has a very unique voice, nasal yet somehow not grating. The track has a very folk sound to it and a nice change of pace from the predominantly alternative-themed CD.
k.d. lang gives us yet another catchy female alternative rock song, while Paula Cole and Dolly Parton sing a duet and also win the “Odd Couple” award for the CD. Strangeness of the pairing aside, the vocals on this subdued piece are fantastic. The only thing that seems odd is the accompanying bongo drum in the background, which seems more fitting for something tribal or epic rather than romantic.
The Barenaked Ladies present a track that’s much more subdued than their usual radio singles. It’s a surprising but well-done departure, and their bouncy tone still manages to come through the semi-serious subject matter they cover.
Robbie Williams offers a track that falls somewhere between ’80s pop and ’70s disco. Goofy at times, but with an infectious beat, it’s a definite standout from the female alternative rock suffusing the soundtrack. Also breaking with the alternative rock vibe is an old school soulful R&B piece by Jackie Wilson. Great ’50s music is always a plus.
Tracy Dawn returns us to the realm of wistful-sounding female alternative rock once again with “You Deserve to be Loved.” Like BT’s “Shame,” there’s nothing really bad about it, just that it’s not as strong as the earlier female alternative offerings and you get the distinct feeling that you’ve heard it all before. Celeste Prince’s track sadly falls into the same category, but if being unmemorable is the worst trait a song has, you’re still doing pretty well.
Bobby Darin rounds off the CD with a wonderfully romantic piano piece, a very fitting coda for an all-around strong romantic soundtrack. The movie may have been horrendous, but at least one good thing did come from it in the form of its soundtrack. Well … two good things, if you count more exposure for Charlize Theron.