A lot has been written about this album in recent months, so in many ways there was a lot of pressure with a lot of expectations to live up to. But let me tell you this: ‘Rome’ lives up to everything ever said about it. It’s a stunning album, one of the best of recent years and it’ll certainly go down as one of the best albums of 2011.
Recording for the album started five years ago, but it’s well worth the wait. Danger Mouse is known for being one of the best producers in the world, so as expected, the sound and feel of the album is impeccable. When recording the tracks, Italian musicians were used over American session players to give it a more authentic Italian feel and that was definitely the right decision. It’s an unbelievable album which also features Norah Jones and Jack White supply vocals on six tracks, three tracks each.
- Theme Of Rome
- The Rose With The Broken Neck
- Morning Fog (Interlude)
- Season’s Trees
- Her Hollow Ways (Interlude)
- Roman Blue
- Two Against One
- The Gambling Priest
- The World (Interlude)
- The Matador Has Fallen
- Morning Fog
- Problem Queen
- Her Hollow Ways
- The World
The opening number ‘Theme From Rome’ is wonderful, beginning with a simple drum groove before an acoustic guitar comes in with bass. Over the top of this is a magical vocal line which really adds to the Italian atmosphere. The majestic nature of this track really fits with the history of Rome, it’s fantastic. Jack White makes his first appearance on the second track ‘The Rose With The Broken Neck’, supplying vocals which are full of typical White melodies. The guitar in this track is sublime. ‘Morning Fog (Interlude)’ is the first interlude of the album, and it’s just as beautiful as the previous two full length tracks.
Norah Jones appears on ‘Season’s Trees’ with her wonderfully smooth voice and continues the trend of laid back grooves of the previous tracks. It’s one of my favourite tracks on the album, along with the other two tracks she sings on. ‘Her Hollow Ways (Interlude)’ is the second interlude and features strings recorded in Italy by Italian musicians, along with choir like vocals in the background which mimic the strings exactly. ‘Roman Blue’ is a full length instrumental and it was a very good decision to have no vocals. There’s so much going on musically that you don’t need lyrics. The music is sublime.
‘Two Against One’ is the second track which features Jack White on vocals, and it’s just as good as the first. The overall feeling of this number is darker than those previously, but it’s just as good. ‘The Gambling Priest’ is another full length instrumental and the Italian style electric guitar really shines on this track, as does the use of strings again. The guitars also have an American western feel to them. The next interlude ‘The World (Interlude)’ is followed by the second Norah Jones track ‘Black’ and features some wonderful lyrics and melodies throughout. ‘The Matador Has Fallen’ and ‘Morning Fog’ are two more instrumentals but shorter in length, and contain some of the best music on the entire record. The tracks are extremely atmospheric and seem to pull you into feeling you’re actually in Italy. Brilliant!
‘Problem Queen’ is the final track which Norah Jones features on, and contains the best vocal melodies on the album. This and the brilliant mix of instruments really remind you what a classic album you’re listening to. It’s absolutely brilliant. ‘Her Hollow Ways’ is another full length instrumental, and carries on the trend of containing beautifully played musical parts that require no vocals whatsoever. The final track on the album is called ‘The World’ and it’s probably the grandest sounding track on the album, fitting that it’s the end of the record. It’s a cracking track with melodies that’ll stay with you throughout the day.
Overall, I can’t find any faults with this album. From start to finish it’s absolutely magical and you just know you’ve listened to something special when you finish it. Then you play it all again, and again, and again. The album is at its best when it’s played from start to finish, something I’ve done countless times since I bought it. The presence of instrumentals is another high point. It reminds you that tracks don’t have to have vocals on them to be good or noticeable. The music is what matters, and this album has plenty of it. It’s wonderful.