Soundtrack Review: JACK GOES BOATING
JACK GOES BOATING tells the story of a man looking for love, a simple concept that is never quite that simple. In contrast, the film’s soundtrack is subtle and understated, playing to the background, yet still making its presence known.
When I tried to think of how I would describe this soundtrack, one word came to my mind: lovely. A mix of older and newer artists, the collection plays fluidly from track to track. But make no mistake, understated does not mean forgettable. Each song has a distinct sound that reflects each artist, but at the same time works well together.
The film is the directorial debut of Philip Seymour Hoffman, who also stars as the film’s title character, Jack. I was surprised to learn that Hoffman also helped produce the soundtrack. Having performed in the play version as well, Hoffman proves that he knows this character inside and out and cannot only bring him to life, but paint his musical landscape as well. The tone the compilation expresses is pitch-perfect, but the lyrics themselves also reflect back on the themes of the story. Grizzly Bear sing “I can’t get out of what I’m into with you” on their track “All We Ask” which is a wonderfully simple way of explaining a feeling that is anything but simple.
As much of the story is centered around and carried out by Jack, the soundtrack seems to reflect him as well. The Melodians provide us with Jack’s music style of choice (reggae) on “Rivers Of Babylon.” One would think that the reggae vibe of The Melodians would not go well with the almost melancholy all-piano track that follows it (“Snow” by Evan Lurie) but somehow, they work. Much like our mismatched pair of Jack and Connie (Amy Ryan), the two seemingly different songs end up making sense once they are together.
Cat Power and Fleet Foxes deliver moving vocals on “Where Is My Love” and “Oliver James," respectively. Both artists shine on these songs and made you feel as though you were coming up for air after floating along with the other songs. (Forgive me the swimming/water metaphor.)
And when was the last time you heard Mel Tormé on a soundtrack? His jazz influenced track was another one of those pieces you would not think would fit, but proves jazz, reggae, piano instrumentals, and ballads can all work together. We get a trumpet driven track from Dave’s True Story with their version of “Blue Moon” which continues the more “old school” romance vibe of these two tracks.
Bill Evans’ “Peace Piece” wraps things up in his all-piano track that is not quite sad, but not quite uplifting either. I thought this was the perfect way to end as movies and stories so often leave us with the “happy ending," but I always wonder, what happens NEXT? It won’t always be happy, it won’t always be sad, it will just be. But despite it all, despite all the ups and downs love and life bring, it helps to go through it with someone by your side.
This soundtrack is available through Lakeshore Records.
1. “Oliver James” – Fleet Foxes
2. “All We Ask” – Grizzly Bear
3. “Rivers Of Babylon” – The Melodians
4. “Snow” – Even Lurie
5. “Where Is My Love” – Cat Power
6. “Eat Yourself” – Goldfrapp
7. “White Winter Hymnal” – Fleet Foxes
8. “Didn’t I” – Darondo
9. “Dearly Departed” – Devotchka
10. “Hello, Young Lovers” – Mel Tormé
11. “Overcome Me” – Evan Lurie
12. “Blue Moon” – Dave’s True Story
13. “Peace Piece” – Bill Evans