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MAGNOLIA: SOUNDTRACK

There are four great songs on this soundtrack, and eight pleasantly average ones. Aimee Mann who is the inspiration for the whole kit and caboodle – the film, the soundtrack, the Paul Thomas Anderson encomium in the liner notes – actually wrote none of the great ones. Sorry Paul. And Aimee. She does sing one of them though . . . beautifully.

Her sensitive cooing of Harry Nilsson’s One – amidst a dazzling arrangement of rhythmic keyboards, romantic guitar lines, transient percussive accents and counter-harmonies (with all instruments performed by the remarkable Jon Brion) – couldn’t be further from John Farnham’s dramatic interpretation, which just goes to prove there’s more than One way to do justice to a finely crafted pop song.

Mann’s voice is as sweet as marzipan and fresh as teaming rain, but none of her originals on this soundtrack move me like this opening track, or, in fact, the two classic Supertramp numbers (Goodbye Stranger and Logical Song), or Jon Brion instrumental that conclude the recording.

Anderson waxes lyrical about Mann’s lyrics. He says she is a "brilliant writer . . . a great articulator of the biggest things we think about" because her lyrics are so "simple and direct". Oh Man(n)! I like her lyrics too. She does write about universal themes, and she cuts to the quick with her emotional honesty, but appealing as straightforward expressions of the heart may be, they do not alone place the author alongside Joni Mitchell . . . or even Tori Amos (whom Mann can’t compete with lyrically, but does borrow from melodically – compare Amos’s Leather with Mann’s Momentum).

Don’t get me wrong, this is definitely a superior soundtrack. Mann’s songs are easy listening for any mood or occasion, and the clarity of the production (with mixes by tone master Bob Clearmountain) is matchless. But it’s not quite the tour de force Anderson would have you believe.
Brad Green

Review published: September 7, 2000

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PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON

TITLE: Magnolia (music from the motion picture)

ID: 9362476382
Warner

FEATURED ARTISTS: Aimee Mann, Supertramp, Jon Brion

EXEC. PRODUCER: Paul Thomas Anderson, JoAnne Sellar

TRACKS: 12







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