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Soundtrack Review : SHAME

A mix of original music and classic rock, blues, and jazz puts other soundtracks to shame. Steve McQueen’s latest film, the psychological drama SHAME, isn’t the most cheerful watch of the year. Dealing with the sex addiction of Brandon (an award-winning turn by Michael Fassbender), and the effect the arrival of his bohemian sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) has on his life of excess, it is an unflinching look at modern life and masculinity gone wrong. Having been critically acclaimed by all and sundry, you would expect the soundtrack to be similarly brilliant; and you’d be right. The mood of the film is summed up and sometimes challenged by a well-thought, eclectic mix of original music and contemporary rock, blues, and jazz.

The combination of Harry Escott’s original music and the virtuoso piano player Glenn Gould perfectly sum up the dark, self-destructive atmosphere of the film, and Carey Mulligan’s rendition of ‘New York, New York’ is simultaneously heart-melting and chilling. However, it is not just the original music which embodies the mood of the film; the songs from celebrated contemporary artists enhance and challenge what is shown on screen, and take this soundtrack from a musical accompaniment into a stand-alone album.  Blondie’s classic track ‘Rapture’, from the 1980 album ‘Autoamerican’, is the epitome of sexiness, as is ‘I Want Your Love’ by Chic. Chet Baker’s ‘Let’s Get Lost’ struck me as being quite romantic for a film about sex addiction, and celebrated saxophonist John Coltrane’s reworking of the classic ‘My Favourite Things’ brings a hint of sophistication to the proceedings.

The mixture of new and old, classic and contemporary, jazz and pop, is what makes this soundtrack stand out. As a soundtrack to a film, it does its job with ease, effortlessly capturing the mood and tone of both the film and the characters. But the album itself manages to recreate the story, which is a rare find. By far one of the best soundtracks of the year.

Track Listing

01 Harry Escott — Brandon
02 Glenn Gould – Goldberg Variations ; BWV 988 – Aria
03 Tom Tom Club – Genius Of Love
04 Blondie – Rapture
05 Chic – I Want Your Love
06 John Coltrane – My Favorite Things
07 Carey Mulligan – New York New York “Theme”
08 Chet Baker – Let’s Get Lost
09 Glenn Gould – Prelude No. 10 in E Minor, BWV 855
10 Glenn Gould – Goldberg Variations – Var. 15 Canone Alla Quinta
11 Harry Escott – Unravelling
12 Howlin’ Wolf – You Can’t Be Beat
13 Mark Louque – The Problem
14 Glenn Gould – Prelude & Fugue No. 16 in G Minor, BWV 885 – Praeludium
15 Harry Escott – End Credits Film

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