Rachel Getting MarriedDirector Jonathan Demme (most well-known for The Silence of the Lambs) has recently been earning rave reviews for his stripped-down drama Rachel Getting Married, featuring an equally stripped-down performance from Anne Hathaway (which has been earning its own rave reviews, by the way). Demme isn’t as well known for his documentaries (most recently Jimmy Carter Man From Plains), and his decision to use a documentary-style approach to his latest feature film seems to be paying off. This documentary-style mentality bled over into the soundtrack work as well. In fact, Demme says that the guest list for the film’s wedding included “a group of musicians who I knew I could count on to create evocative original music in the moment, while we filmed, that would free the movie from the need to have a dramatic background score composed during post-production.”

This group of musicians, including Tunde Adebimpe, Zafer Tawil, Donald Harrison, Jr., and Robyn Hitchcock has provided exactly what Demme was seeking. Each track on this soundtrack has its own life and energy that simultaneously separates it from every other track on the album and gives the soundtrack as a whole a unique style to proclaim. Whether you’re listening to the live, unbridled energy and enthusiasm of Cyro Baptista & Beat the Donkey performing “Samba for Shiva” or the folksy lyrics of Robyn Hitchcock’s “America” or “Up To Our Nex,” it’s clear that the underlying theme is individuality. Demme has opted to use unique pieces of music created by friends in the moment to score his film, rather than simply opting for a dramatic score placed behind the film in post-production.

Much of the album sounds like it was recorded in a home studio. Among the mix of eclectic, but distinctly home-brewed music are the reggae-tastic “Dread Natty Congo” that Sister Carol East provides, Angela McCluskey’s poppy “It’s Been Done”, and the guitar-driven “Trilla” by Brooklyn Demme (no relation I’m sure…). The most impressive song on the album, though is Tunde Adebimpe’s stripped-down cover of Neil Young’s classic “Unknown Legend.” Perhaps it’s the independent quality of the recording that ties in so well with the film itself, or maybe it’s Demme’s close relation to Young’s music (he filmed 2006’s Neil Young: Heart of Gold and is expecting to release Neil Young Trunk Show in 2009), but this track is magical.

Zach’s Rating: A
Perfect For: Fans of eclectic, independent music collections
Stay Away if: You’re looking for a well-produced studio score
If you only buy one track, make it this one: “Unknown Legend” performed by Tunde Adebimpe – it’s a stripped-down version of Neil Young’s classic. There’s a reason it’s the first track on the album

To purchase the soundtrack for Rachel Getting Married, visit Amazon

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