Mason Daring,
Sunshine State
(Sony Pictures Classics, 2002)

The soundtrack to the film Sunshine State, produced by Mason Daring, is, unfortunately, a rather disjointed CD. I am not saying that individual songs are necessarily bad, but they do not fit well together on a single CD.

Let me start by explaining that six of the 15 tracks were composed by Daring. These pieces are rather short and are mostly rather melancholy. If the whole soundtrack were made up of selections like this, then it would not be a bad CD. At least the mood would flow in one general direction.

Alas, that is not the case. A group called Flash & the Ruins performs three tunes: "Henry's Lounge," "Buster's Place" and "Behind the Dunes." This band has a sound that would probably fit right in many bars and lounges in Florida. They have a light rock sound that screams middle-aged, white America. I can imagine that after a couple of beers, they actually sound pretty good.

Off in a completely different and non-complementary genre is "The Last Mile of the Way" by the Elm Street Church of God Choir. This may simply be my opinion, but African American spirituals do not typically meld with easy listening rock.

Did I mention the country pieces, "Merle World" by Jim Lauderdale or "Makin Believe" by Kitty Wells? There is also a Lynyrd Skynyrd selection, "Call Me the Breeze." Personally, my favorite track is the folk-rock "Can't Let Go" by Lucinda Williams.

Have you gotten the idea yet that this CD contains a lot of different genres? I feel that these pieces do quite well by themselves. I imagine that each song supports its scene in the movie. As there are generally gaps between the songs played in a film, and since you have the story dictating the mood, I can also imagine that hearing such divergent music is not all that jarring during the movie-viewing experience. However, successful integration into a film does not necessarily make a soundtrack that can stand on its own.

There is not a single song on this soundtrack that I dislike, but taken as a whole, I would suggest you skip the soundtrack to Sunshine State. The musical styles diverge too much to be placed back to back on a audio CD that does not have the film to support it. I would even recommend purchasing each individual artist's or group's CDs to get a particular song before suggesting you buy this soundtrack.

[ by Wil Owen ]
Rambles: 2 November 2002

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