Various acts, "Silver Linings Playbook Soundtrack" (Sony)
The movie "Silver Linings Playbook" is one of the buzz films for this winter's awards season. The David O. Russell-directed flick stars Bradley Cooper as a former teacher with anger-management problems and fresh from a mental institution, Robert De Niro as his OCD father and Jennifer Lawrence as a young widow with anger issues of her own.
Music is often key to the story -- from Stevie Wonder's "My Cherie Amour," which triggers Cooper's character's rage, to the medley of songs that serves as a backdrop for a climactic dancing competition. But, unfortunately, "Silver Linings Playbook" doesn't have a fraction of the continuity or allure of the movie.
Instead, it's a typical soundtrack hodgepodge, underscored by the fact there are two instrumental songs each from the Dave Brubeck Quartet (the hand-clapping romp "Unsquare Dance" and a spin on "Maria" from "West Side Story") and movie-score wunderkind Danny Elfman (the scattershot "Silver Lining Titles" and the rote "Walking Home").
In addition to "My Cherie Amour," there are disparate oldies ranging from the Polynesian-flavored "The Moon of Manakoora" by Les Paul and Mary Ford, to the soul-jam "Hey Big Brother" by Rare Earth, to the sober Bob Dylan/Johnny Cash duet "Girl From the North Country."
New songs are likewise far-flung: limber, rootsy rock from Alabama Shakes ("Always Alright"), a trippy excursion from Alt-J featuring Mountain Man ("Buffalo"), a blurry, anonymous slice of rawness from Eagles of Death Metal ("Now I'm a Fool"), the serpentine-cool jazz of "Goodnight Moon" by Ambrosia Parsley & The Elegant Too, and a pointless and dull remake of "Monster Mash" by CrabCorps. Then there's the Dianne Warren-penned power-pop/modern R&B Jessie J track "Silver Lining," which could serve as the film's mainstream signature hit.
All together, these songs are a composite mess, much like the relationships in the film.
CHUCK CAMPBELL, SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE
Mighty Sam McClain, "Too Much Jesus (Not Enough Whiskey)" (Mighty Music)
"Too much Jesus, not enough whiskey" is not the kind of sentiment you expect to hear from a classic, gospel-rooted soul man. And that's what McClain is. The song, however, really seems to be a nuanced cautionary tale that takes a different view -- "Jesus is the only way," Mighty Sam declares. That same mix of gritty, preacherly fervor and unvarnished funk also infuses other numbers, notably the calls for justice and peace in "Can You Feel It?" and "Stand Up!" But McClain, 69, who co-wrote all 14 songs, can also play the silky-smooth love man with seductive charm. Even here, though, he can find reason to invoke the divine: "I believe God planned it this way," he purrs on the strings-kissed "So Into You." "He put us together."
NICK CRISTIANO, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER