Petra Haden

Petra Goes to the Movies

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AllMusic Review by

Petra Haden's one-person, all-vocals take on the Who's album The Who Sell Out was a crazy stunt she completed on a dare, but also a stunning artistic statement that showed what determination and crazy vocal skill could do to a classic album. Turn it inside out and make it small enough to fit in your pocket, basically. A decade later, Haden decided to do the same thing to a collection of her favorite themes from the silver screen. She applied her elastic pipes to the likes of "God's Lonely Man" from Taxi Driver, "Superman Theme," and "Pascal's Waltz" from Big Night, singing the lead melodies but also all the backing parts as well. It's another impressive achievement that sounds better than Sell Out from a technical aspect, thanks to the improved recording facilities and the lack of any of the slight wobbles or occasional pitchy moments. The only thing missing is the sense of spontaneity and slightly wacky joy that was transmitted though her vocals on Sell Out. Here, she is all business and very precise, playing everything straight even when the songs are as playful as "Carlotta's Galop" from 8½ or as breezy as "Cool Hand Luke Main Title." It ends up sounding majestic and artistic, where Sell Out sounded giddy and a little silly. The other difference here is that she breaks the all-vocals approach a few times -- singing with backing from pianist Brad Mehldau on a yearning version of "Calling You" from Baghdad Café, with guitarist Bill Frisell on a tender "It Might Be You" from Tootsie, and with Frisell and her father Charlie on "This Is Not America" from The Falcon and the Snowman. While these songs provide a bit of a stylistic break, they sound a little too traditional and somewhat less interesting when compared to the rest of the album. Overall, though, it's another impressive album that shows Haden to be a truly talented singer and vocal arranger, and one that fans of movie music done in a non-traditional fashion should find quite interesting.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:50
2 2:00
3 2:07
4 3:00
5 1:51
6 2:02
7 2:10
8 3:00
9 5:15
10 1:21
11 3:54
12 2:50
13 1:23
14 4:47
15 4:20
16 4:59
blue highlight denotes track pick