Music Review:
Songs From The Movie

Mary Chapin Carpenter’s newly released album, Songs From The Movie, is unlike any that she has previously recorded. The album presents orchestral arrangements of ten songs of hers, from classics such as “Come On Come On” to more recent tunes such as “Mrs. Hemingway.”

For those of us familiar with most of Mary Chapin Carpenter’s songbook, this album provides a fresh perspective on a number of her compositions. The orchestrations give the music a cinematic feeling—hence the “Movie” reference in the title. For example, the rendition of “Come On Come On” has a very expansive feeling. At first it’s a little jarring to hear such a big sound accompanying a familiar melody, but after a short while the orchestral music sweeps you along.

“Mrs. Hemingway” tells a complete story in the course of six minutes, and is especially well suited for orchestration. The hopes and disappointments of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley Richardson, that are the focus of the song are underscored by the dramatic rendering of the music.

Taken together, the ten songs on this album do sound like they comprise a film soundtrack. It’s easy to imagine opening credits rolling while listening to the first song, “On And On It Goes,” which conveys a feeling of something beginning. And the last song, “Goodnight America,” provides the album with a strong finish.

This is an unusual endeavor, because the album title Songs From The Movie could lead you to think that this is a soundtrack for a new movie, and that’s not the case. But it’s an exciting example of how existing material can be repurposed in an unexpected and satisfying way.

See more features from the February 2014 issue