Chanteuse Norah Jones, having pretty much conquered the music world, is now taking on Hollywood by starring in My Blueberry Nights, which is currently in limited release. The producers are making the most of the opportunity — although the film poster shows all three leading ladies (the others are Rachel Weisz and Natalie Portman), the soundtrack album is dominated by Norah’s gorgeous visage.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it is a little surprising because she only contributed one song to the collection. On the other hand, she had some input on choosing other pieces, and it would have been pretty silly for the record producers not to use her image to help sell the album.
It’s a good mix of tracks from several different genres, and since I haven’t seen the movie I can’t really judge how the music fits the mood, but that’s OK because we’re here just to talk about the music itself. The film’s Director – Wong Kar Wai – appears to have been the primary decision-maker in the selection of pieces for both the film’s soundtrack and the album, and it’s a nice collection.
Appropriately enough, the album opens with Norah’s contribution, “The Story,” which she wrote to reflect on her thoughts about acting in her first movie, but it has ended up being the closest thing the movie has to a theme song. Norah’s in fine voice here and I think the song will probably appeal to her fans.
Much of the instrumental music in the soundtrack was furnished by Ry Cooder, and three of his pieces are included among the tracks on the album: “Ely, Nevada,” “Long Ride,” and “Bus Ride,” which is probably my favorite among them — although all are nice listens, with Cooder’s brooding, soft guitar setting a somber mood.
There are some nice vocals here besides Norah’s, with my favorites probably Mavis Staples’ driving “Eyes On The Prize,” and “Skipping Stone,” which provides Amos Lee the opportunity to turn up the soul factor even higher. There are even a couple of old classics; Ruth Brown’s unforgettable expression of regrets, “Looking Back,” and a very familiar piece but one that still rocks, Otis Redding’s “Try A Little Tenderness.”
There are some other nice tracks here, including the Latin instrumental “Pajaros” by Gustavo Santaolalla, and a couple of soulful vocals from Cat Power. A total of fourteen tracks and a good collection that will have a lot of appeal for listeners.
Full listing along with sound samples available at Amazon
Video about My Blueberry Nights featuring Norah Jones.