When I heard about the release of this album I was extremely excited, as for years I have been hunting down various old and new recordings of sea chanteys. I'm not a huge fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, as whilst they are a lot of fun and great entertainment for the average person, they are completely fantastical, and anyone who knows much of the history of the real pirates will be aware that there are so many absolutely fantastic and true pirate stories out there. Still, director Gore Verbinski and star Johnny Depp obviously care a great deal about the subject and with some help from some world-class artists have produced this album.
Whether or not you'll like this music depends largely on what you're looking for in it. The songs fall into two loose categories - 1)dedicated folk singers singing fairly faithful versions of the sea chanteys; and 2) rock/pop artists reinterpreting the material in a loose punkish style. The first category of songs I found to be absolutely what I was expecting from the album, and have found some incredibly moving moments among them - the opening tune 'Cape Cod Girls', for example, followed by 'My Son John'and 'Haul Away Joe'. The folk singers seem to be able to deliver an authentic feel to the material which takes you to another place altogether.
The rock singers, on the other hand, should certainly be applauded on trying to make something new of the traditional songs. Alas, it doesn't always really come off. Some work better than others (Andrea Corr's performance is a nice surprise) but some really feel leaden compared to the subtleties of the folkier side of the album, all clunking drums and distorted guitars where they really don't fit. Bono's redition of 'A Dying Sailor To His Shipmates' (a heart-stoppingly beautiful song in the hands and vocal cords of Paul Clayton) is never-ending and cannot fail to grate, and Nick Cave's blackish snarling feels rather like he's trying to compensate authenticity with attitude - it doesn't work. I suppose this is all simply an attempt to attract more interest in the album by having the big names. They don't completely wreck it, and I'm happy that people may hopefully discover the other songs on the album having been initially interested only by the more well-known artists.
Ultimately, I've derived a lot of pleasure from this album, given judicious use of the skip button. There's a huge amount here to enjoy, whatever your taste, so get stuck in and have fun. Yo ho ho.