Thursday, December 14, 2017
Tampa Bay Music & Shows

Review: Petra Haden recreates movie scores with only her voice

Petra Haden's new album is one heck of a parlor trick. Using just her voice — words and bah-rumps and whatever weirdness passes through her lips — she re-creates famous movie scores: Rebel Without a Cause, A Fistful of Dollars, Goldfinger. For Psycho, she just about passes out mimicking those persistent dagger strings.

I should say up front that a little of Petra Goes to the Movies goes a looong way. Although this is a cappella singing in its most adventurous form, let's just say if this were spinning at a party, I'd give it about 20 minutes before I found another party. In 2005, she released Petra Haden Sings: The Who Sell Out, in which Pete, Roger & Co. all resided in her tricks-aplenty larynx. That record was more of a crowd-pleaser; it also rocked hard.

Nevertheless, Haden, a 41-year-old indie darling who's worked with everyone from the Decemberists to Beck to the Foo Fighters, is a movie junkie. And that pure cinematic joy is evident throughout this meticulously crafted effort, especially on such grandiose works as John Williams' Superman Theme, which takes the robust art of humming in the shower to new shampoo-flinging levels. It's pretty darn adorable. Just try to keep up.

Not all of the singer's choices are well-known: One of the sweetest picks, and performances, is My Bodyguard, Dave Grusin's composition from the 1980 teen flick starring Chris Makepeace and Matt Dillon. That one takes me back, the music's puckish autumnal melody as comforting as falling leaves and school-bus mornings. A hipper, more modern selection is Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' Hand Covers Bruise, from The Social Network, a buzzing, contemplative work with an unsettling drone underneath a casual six-note refrain. Both of those tracks are reminiscent of '60s cocktail jazz, accompaniment perhaps for Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass.

Haden mixes up the "instrumentals" (for lack of a better word) with a few lyrical flourishes. Her father, legendary bassist Charlie Haden, and guitarist Bill Frisell lay the groundwork for the haunting This Is Not America, from The Falcon and the Snowman, a song written by David Bowie, Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays. Frisell also plays on It Might Be You, the satisfyingly saccharine ballad from Dustin Hoffman comedy Tootsie; Haden's "natural" voice, it turns out, is a tender coo.

The oft-covered Calling You, from Baghdad Cafe, is a straight ready-for-radio weeper, complete with Haden's torchy reading and a chilly piano line from jazz notable Brad Mehldau. All of these cuts are relatively traditional, and much more amenable to repeat listens.

I've seen enough episodes of Glee to know that the Dalton Academy Warblers are hunky practitioners of vocal gymnastics; thus if you're a fan of the TV show, you might very well dig this, too. But Haden longs to challenge, both herself and the listener. So let it be known that Katy Perry's Teenage Dream is one thing; the blaring, unsettling cacophony of God's Lonely Man from Martin Scorsese's blood-soaked Taxi Driver is another.

Sean Daly can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
2018 Gasparilla Music Festival lineup: The Roots, Spoon, Father John Misty and more

2018 Gasparilla Music Festival lineup: The Roots, Spoon, Father John Misty and more

Got your tickets to the Gasparilla Music Festival yet? No? You better hurry up, because after today's initial lineup announcement, they might go fast.Tonight Show house band the Roots and indie rock heroes Father John Misty and Spoon top the initial ...
Published: 12/13/17
This week’s best Tampa Bay concerts: Katy Perry, Jingle Ball, Trans-Siberian Orchestra and more

This week’s best Tampa Bay concerts: Katy Perry, Jingle Ball, Trans-Siberian Orchestra and more

WHERE’S THE PURPOSE? Katy PerryYou can pinpoint the exact moment when things started to unravel for Katy Perry’s Witness. It was 12:23 a.m. on Feb. 10, when she tweeted of her latest musical direction: "We gonna call this era Purposeful Pop." You kin...
Published: 12/13/17
Sounds of the Season opening act for Hernando Symphony Orchestra in 2017-18

Sounds of the Season opening act for Hernando Symphony Orchestra in 2017-18

BROOKSVILLE — Impressive guest performances, student nights and 25 new pieces of music are just a few of the exciting additions to the Hernando Symphony Orchestra’s 2017-18 season.And when the orchestra opens the season with the Sounds of the Season ...
Published: 12/13/17
Even post-Weinstein, 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' is extremely popular

Even post-Weinstein, 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' is extremely popular

Gifts are wrapped, halls are decked and people are on Twitter calling Baby, It’s Cold Outside a "sexual predator anthem." It’s a holiday tradition for the social media age. Pointing out the creepiness of the song — or "rapeyness," ...
Published: 12/13/17
Nina Simone, Bon Jovi, The Cars top 2018 Rock Hall of Fame inductees

Nina Simone, Bon Jovi, The Cars top 2018 Rock Hall of Fame inductees

NEW YORK — Iconic singer Nina Simone and New Jersey rockers Bon Jovi lead the 2018 class of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, which includes four first-time nominees. The Cars, as well as first-time contenders Dire Straits, The Moody Blues and Si...
Published: 12/13/17
Before Tampa tour stop, Katy Perry’s creative team breaks down her Witness Tour’s ‘big, bold images’

Before Tampa tour stop, Katy Perry’s creative team breaks down her Witness Tour’s ‘big, bold images’

In the ever-escalating arms race to be the most eye-popping pop star on the planet, sometimes you have to call in for backup. Even if you’re Katy Perry.When plotting her lavishly spectacular Witness Tour, which arrives in Tampa on Friday, Perry turne...
Published: 12/13/17
Mary J. Blige coming to Amalie Arena in Tampa

Mary J. Blige coming to Amalie Arena in Tampa

An icon of modern R&B is coming to town to warm your winter right up.Mary J. Blige, the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, is coming to Amalie Arena in Tampa on Feb. 21, part of her ongoing Strength of a Woman Tour. Tickets start at $47.25 and go on sale at 10 a...
Published: 12/12/17
Kesha, Macklemore coming to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa

Kesha, Macklemore coming to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa

Brush your teeth with Jack Daniel's and put on your grandpa's hand-me-downs, because Kesha and Macklemore are teaming up for a summer tour.The pop outcasts-turned-heroes will hit the road for a 30-city trek that includes a stop at Tampa's MidFlorida ...
Published: 12/11/17
Dead and Company’s Orlando concert, postponed after John Mayer’s appendectomy, rescheduled for Feb. 27

Dead and Company’s Orlando concert, postponed after John Mayer’s appendectomy, rescheduled for Feb. 27

John Mayer is on the mend, and Dead and Company are making plans to get back on the road.The Grateful Dead-honoring supergroup has rescheduled several concerts postponed by Mayer's emergency appendectomy this week, including a Dec. 7 date at Orlando'...
Published: 12/08/17
Clearwater Sea-Blues lineup: Kenny Wayne Shepherd, ZZ Ward, more coming to Coachman Park

Clearwater Sea-Blues lineup: Kenny Wayne Shepherd, ZZ Ward, more coming to Coachman Park

A handful of artists are about to put the blues back into the Clearwater Sea-Blues Festival.Blues guitarists Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Ana Popovic will headline the 2018 Sea-Blue Festival, Feb. 24-25 at Coachman Park in Clearwater. Fiery singers ZZ Wa...
Published: 12/08/17