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on 30 January 2015
From a young age, I was strangely attracted to rock music that incorporated string arrangements. It started with T-Rex's 'Cosmic dancer' - then Mick Ronson's stunning arrangements for Bowie and more recently Peter Gabriel's amazing orchestral interpretations of his songs on 'Scratch my Back' - but to name a few. So I feel incredibly fortunate that I had the radio on the right station at the right time as Mary Chapin Carpenter performed 'Songs from the Movie' live from Glasgow with orchestral accompaniment.

I'd be a liar if I said I was a full on Mary Chapin Carpenter fan, I'm not oblivious to her music, just didn't really get into it, as such. I know of her true style and I've heard snippets of various songs on numerous occasions - but for me, 'Songs from the Movie ' is an incredible introduction to her music and without disrespecting what she has done in the past, one can only wonder why it took her so long to follow this approach? Maybe she was inspired by Gabriel's classical transformation?

Going by certain reviews, there seems to be two groups. Those who prefer the old style of playing the songs and those who favour this new approach. I do like the old style but I love what she has done here. Mary's beautifully clear and calming vocals adds true substance to the dynamic orchestral arrangements and if you want to take it to new levels of devotion, just listen to the stunning 'I am a Town' and prepare to get emotional as Mary sings: "I am a town"..."I am a town"..."I am a town" - then swoon when her voice majestically deepens as she sings: "Southbound" - then feel yourself shiver as the hairs on the back of your neck truly stand on end. What more can I say?

One can only hope the powers that be will officially release a recording of the Glasgow concert as I've just recently had the pleasure of seeing Ms Chapin Carpenter perform similar at The Royal Albert Hall - a concert still vivid in my mind.

Quite simply, If you like music that moves you, then this beautiful selection will not disappoint.
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on 20 January 2014
As a long time Mary Chapin fan, I was very excited about this release and I'm pleased to say it doesn't disappoint. Mary is a great story teller and so her songs lend themselves well to this cinematic approach.

The lush orchestral arrangements of some of Mary's best loved ballads from her vast back catalogue are truly magical and breathe new life into familiar tracks such as ` Come On, Come One', `I am A Town' and `Between Here And Gone'. Whilst I personally found Joni Mitchell's `Travelogue' which treads a similar classically influenced path a bit hit or miss, this collection ranks alongside the excellent `Gold Dust' by Tori Amos and Nanci Griffith's `The Dust Bowl Symphony` from 1999. Both albums successfully transforming original recordings with strings, woodwind and horns but staying true to the melodies that made them so special in the first place.

My favourites here include the romantic `Mrs Hemingway' and uplifting`Ideas Are Like Stars' in all its choral splendour.

With so many songs to choose from my only gripe is that I wish the collection was slightly longer than 10 tracks but perhaps this bodes well for ` Songs From The Movie 2.` Fingers crossed.
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The days when her label marketed Mary Chapin Carpenter as a country singer are a thing of the past. She is a multi faceted talent and a songwriter of real distinction. Her last album 2012's "Ashes and Roses" was a deeply moving account of her illness through a pulmonary embolism that "hit" (as is so often the case) at a time of other testing life episodes. In one sense this new album "Songs from the Movie" is a continuation of that album making her brand of pop, folk and country almost unclassifiable. But in this case "Songs" has the added dimension of being recorded at Air Studios in London with super arranger and conductor Vince Mendoza renown for his sterling work with Joni Mitchell and a host of other artists. The presence of an orchestra fits with Chapin Carpenter's music like a perfectly formed pair of your favourite old jeans. The song choices equally are a poignant snapshot of her career to date set out as a thematic overview.

As for the great "I am a town" it could come a with a 100% money back satisfaction guarantee and its safe to say she wouldn't lose a cent. It is wonderful. The vocal is beautifully controlled and Mendoza and his orchestra's swirl are luminous not least at 4.12 when they nail the song so completely you could hang a picture on it. Ditto on the brilliant "Ideas are like stars" from "Place in the World". There are dangers in orchestral approaches that the whole thing becomes overly ornate and drowns out the pure simplicity of some of the songs. The good news is that Mendoza's arrangements are tasteful and often exquisite. Similarly Mary Chapin Carpenter's delivery is never over stated yet always heartfelt. This is no more so than on the closer "Goodnight America" which even surpasses the lovely version on "Between here and gone". This reviewer can be a hardened old cynic but will readily admit to a rather large lump in the throat upon the songs conclusion. There are also further treats in store with the Parisian imagery of the sumptuous "Come on, Come on" and the emotive "Dreaming Road". In truth there is not a bad track in sight and while some may bemoan the absence of some more upbeat tracks this would be to completely miss the point of the albums purpose.

It was George Orwell who once stated that in Britain that "not to expose your true feelings to an adult seems to be instinctive from the age of seven or eight onwards'. Carpenter has never been tainted with such personal repression. Like Joni Mitchell she is singer who wears her heart on her sleeve, records her high and lows, triumphs and anguish and tells you what she is feeling. "Songs from the Movie" is a glorious career summation avoiding a simple "Best of" format and choosing songs that are also some of the best examples of her skill as a storyteller. This combined with one of the most pure contralto voices in the business and orchestration, which oozes class, makes "Song for the Movies" an irresistible treat.
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on 3 June 2015
Horrible. The booming orchestral treatment swamps her wonderful voice, and those intimate songs get lost in the cacophony of violins. The magic of MCC is that you feel she's singing these wonderful songs for you in a smoky bar. I didnt want to Madison Square Gardens treatment, which adds nothing and takes away so much. Buy the CDs with the songs on, but not this. Most fans will hate it. Rightly so.
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on 11 September 2015
This is just a rehash of existing songs with orchestral backing.
Recording quality was poor (have to turn to high volume to hear much) and songs lack the impact of the originals.
A HUGE DISAPPOINTMENT
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on 31 July 2014
A failed experiment, largely due to the execution - dire orchestration - rather than the concept. It will win her no new fans, and discomfit her existing fans, like me.

Perhaps, though, I will make a mix tape (mix CD these days) of this song selection from the versions on her earlier CDs, as it is a good selection from that point of view, and listen to that instead.
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on 21 February 2014
I have most of MCC's albums and have enjoyed them . Her great voice and creative accompaniments have been a joy to listen to. This album on the other hand is a collection of rehashed songs with orchestral backing that have little or no thought put into it. In fact it sounds as if the backing tracks were put on afterwards. Bland is probably too good a word for it.
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on 23 January 2014
I'm sorry to say that I can't agree with the three five star reviews posted so far. Yes she is a great singer songwriter and yes the quality of the record is very good, but I don't see what these lush and very slow orchestrations add to the original recordings. I think the title says it all, this sounds like the incidental music from a film. The only exception I would make is for Goodnight America where I think the build up to the end does add a new note to a great song.
I first saw her in Birmingham in the early 90's and have bought all her CDs since then so I am a fan but I can't say this one will be played a lot by me. So, as I said above, disappointed, we've waited two years to get an orchestrated "best of album".
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on 28 February 2014
I've been a huge fan of Mary Chapin Carpenter for many years, buying her albums without listening to them beforehand, as I did with "Songs From The Movie". Maybe that will change, henceforth, as I find this offering a little disappointing. I'm not sure this totally orchestral style suits her voice and I certainly miss the excellent sound and musicianship of her usual band. I was also disappointed to find a number of the songs to be "covers" of songs from her earlier albums, much preferring the earlier versions, myself. I'm afraid I find this album a bit lifeless, almost maudlin. I hope this a one~off itch that has now been scratched and the next offering will be new songs in her previous style. I LOVE Mary Chapin Carpenter... but not this.
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on 17 August 2016
I got into MCC’s music around the time of her Come On, Come On album after hearing Danny Baker play tracks on his (long gone) BBC Radio 5 breakfast show.

I purchased the next few albums before losing touch with her music for no good reason whatsoever… unit now.

I came across this album via drummer/percussionist Peter Erskine who plays on this recording. After watching a Making Of video on YouTube I immediately ordered the album.

It’s utterly beautiful! The songs, the performances, the orchestral arrangements (by Vince Mendoza) and the recording/production are all superb.

Play this album through a good system and if you aren’t moved you need to check your pulse! ; )
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