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Gustavo Santaolalla

Brokeback Mountain [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

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What is most notable about the soundtrack to Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain is the original score by Argentine music wizard Gustavo Santaolalla (producer of the grand Café Tacuba recordings and a composer in his own right, as evidenced by his two albums, Gas and Ronroco). His interludes and cues evoke the very landscape that Lee portrays in his film, but there are also some fine vocal performances by a star-studded cast of singers. Willie Nelson's read of "He Was a Friend of Mine," complete with squeezebox and layered acoustic guitars, is gorgeous. Emmylou Harris' performance of Santaolalla and Bernie Taupin's "A Love That Will Never Grow Old" is simple, spare, and poignant. "No ONe's Gonna Love You Like Me," a shuffling honky tonk ballad that Santaolalla wrote for Mary McBride, employs a crying pedal steel that hits close to the bone and evokes Patsy Cline in spirit. Likewise, the hard-driving country of "I Will Never Let You Go," written for Jackie Greene, is tough and tender. Santaolalla's cues, like the best of Ry Cooder's film scores, touch the film's scenery, move its narrative, and pricelessly frame it in time. Teddy Thompson and Rufus Wainwright team for a throwaway country-swing version of Roger Miller's "King of the Road," but Thompson does a fine job on the Santaolalla and Taupin tune "I Don't Want to Say Goodbye," which is as heartbroken a ballad as one is likely to hear. This is an utterly wonderful soundtrack that could have done without Linda Ronstadt's version of Buddy Holly's "It's So Easy," Steve Earle's "The Devil's Right Hand," or even Wainwright's "The Maker Makes," but those are a small complaints. ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi

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