The stylish sounds of vintage spaghetti western films return with Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi's new album Rome, half a decade in the making and finally released by Capitol/EMI Records on May 16. Most of the record's 15 tracks are instrumentals, but six tap into the very different vocal talents of Jack White and Norah Jones. The two singers embody Rome's sweeping, moody sound, modeled on old masters like Ennio Morricone, composer for 1966's classic Sergio Leone film The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, among others.
On "Black," Jones channels a sensual femme fatale from decades past. Imagine big landscapes, devastating stakes, and morose characters trapped in a tragedy. The lyrics convey hopeless despair in a casual tone, as Jones sings of being punished for her misdeeds, of dead ends, of being pursued. "Be honest with me," Jones sings in lyrics delivered far more matter-of-factly than the emotionally charged lines would suggest. "We can't afford to ignore that I'm the disease."
"Black" doesn't immediately evoke spaghetti westerns as much as many of Rome's numbers do. Sedate, sing-songy and marked by steady guitar-picking, the track could easily accompany a hipster cocktail party. But that's a testament to the album's range. What results from Rome? Little more than a twinkling, faded aesthetic and hints of a story never told. In the case of "Black," that's more than enough.
On iTunes: Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi / "Black (feat. Norah Jones)"