There was one other thing I forgot to mention about "The Last Crusade" by Sam Roberts: it's got some wonderful horn playing near the end. Normally, I love a horn section in my songs, going right back to my days in the Huey Lewis fan club. But for some reason, saxophone solos and the like have always left me a bit cold. Saxophone jazz even more so. But in The Last Crusade, that horn kicks in and I understand that it's supposed to sound... broken. It's supposed to add a raw, scratchy voice that falls between the notes and fills the gaps. That sort of horn solo, I can finally appreciate.
Unless it's a trumpet. Because trumpets are the voice of the soul, and they should ring out and ring true. Why do I feel that way? Because of one man: Ennio Morricone.
Mr. Morricone's written hundreds upon hundreds of scores in his career, so he's obviously familiar with every instrument by now. But the instrument he grew up playing was the trumpet, and whenever a trumpet in in his arrangements, you can still hear his love for that instrument.
And when I listen to "Rome", the new album my Daniele Luppi and Danger Mouse, all I can hear is their love for Morricone.
Don't let Danger Mouse's name fool you -- he supplies his talent and his passion for this album, but there's scarcely a shadow of his previous projects here. If anything, his presence is most identifiable in the way Norah Jones' vocals are transformed into a sultry, worldly croon with a soft-focus close-up, when they would otherwise be somewhat confusing against Daniele Luppi's score. Because, make no mistake, Luppi is the real delight of this album. Not only does he capture the magic of Morricone, he captures the magic of Italian cinema in the 60s. In other words, this is likely going to be the classiest album of 2011.
You'll notice Jack White's name there as well, which is a welcome guest appearance -- but he's so unmistakeable that it's hard to review his songs and not focus on him. But I will say this: "The Rose with the Broken Neck" is the sort of title so powerful that will not allow its respective song to disappoint. (And it does not.)
So, naturally, this is another album of travel music. But not quite for a road trip -- this is walking music. With this album in your headphones, you become one who has wandered for a hundred years, and is still relentless in the search. You move through the world, and it moves through you, and together, you understand each other's ways. It's transcendent music... it's almost sacred.
And finally, there's one more album I've been enjoying -- and rather than being a journey, it's purely destination. See you tomorrow, when we visit the Soul of Vancouver.