Very few movies can successfully replicate a classic piece of literature. Luckily for the movie’s soundtrack, very few classic pieces of literature have music.
Unlike the movie, which opened to grim reviews Friday, the Great Expectations soundtrack (Atlantic Records) lives up to its name. With both big names and two-bit nobodies, the album endlessly entertains the listener.
Tori Amos heads the list of big names. She performs “Siren,” in typical, passionate Tori fashion. The song is strategically placed as the second track so Amos’ intense emotion lures listeners into the album.
While Amos is hard to outdo, the third track is completely spellbinding. “Life in Mono,” performed by Mono, is the song that backdrops previews for the film. The song is wonderfully heartfelt, and Mono’s breathy voice adds an incomparable sensuality to the song. “Life in Mono” is short and simplistic, both in lyrics and rhythm, but this allows the listener to plunge into the music.
The arrangement of the album deserves numerous accolades. Opening with two melancholy ballads, the third song changes the pace of the album. Chris Cornell performs “Sunshower” with an angst-filled voice that pleases the ear. At times his voice seems to strain for a note, but then quickly returns to a normal tone, simulating the ups and downs of love.
“Wishful Thinking,” sung by Pulp, begins like a slow love song, but quickly picks up with a notable percussion interlude. The arrangement of the song, combined with the lyrics, creates the emotional whirlwind of love. At points, two voices overlap to demonstrate the confusion of being in love with a friend. The lyrics tell a tale any listener who’s been in love will understand: “Like a car crash I can see but I just can’t avoid / Like a plane I’ve been told I never should board / Like a film that’s so bad but / I’ve got to stay ’till the end.”
A melodic piano introduction turns into a tango rhythm accompanied by strings in “Lady, Your Roof Brings Me Down.” Scott Weiland’s intriguing voice matches perfectly with the staccato beat of the song. As track nine, the faster-paced song pulls the listener into the second half of the album.
Lauren Christy, in accordance with the female singers on the album, gives a passionate performance. Christy’s voice gives listeners the feeling that if they closed their eyes, stars would appear and the world would begin to spin.
Fisher’s angelic voice entices the listener in “Breakable.” The innocence of her voice contrasts her mature lyrics about broken hearts. She sounds too young to understand the woes of love, yet her words reverberate through the listener with each strike of the bass guitar.
The Grateful Dead’s “Uncle John’s Band” appears misplaced on the album, but few will argue about listening to the classic piece. Oddly, “Besame Mucho,” by Cesaria Evora, follows the Dead and ends the album. But the operatic song is exquisitely beautiful and maintains the passionate theme.
The Great Expectations soundtrack allures the listener with the first tracks and continues to enthrall to the final piece. The songs tell of both the wonder and the angst of love. They are performed with such emotion the listener not only hears the songs – but also feels them.