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Published: Sunday, 7/23/2006

Sounds: 'Pirates' soundtrack has bold, gutsy power

Swift, swashbuckling, and sophisticated. The soundtrack for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is in the very capable hands of one of Hollywood's best composers, Hans Zimmer, who is best known for penning The Lion King score.

He's up to the task of bringing listeners another round of high seas, high-stakes music for the Pirates sequence. While the disc doesn't go overboard with its risk-taking, it's far from ordinary light pop for the mainstream.

It gets the adrenaline pumping with raw, bold, and gutsy orchestral power, bursting with energy and thumping rhythms, yet with slightly dark connotations.

The album ends with a remix bonus track: A wildly complex, 180-degree electronica dance number by Dutch DJ Tiesto that leaps out in contrast to Zimmer's orchestrated score, while not detracting from the project.

Even listeners who don't care for songs top-heavy with synthesizers might find themselves attracted to this one and the sound effects Tiesto creates for blade-sharp, sword-like crescendos.

- TOM HENRY

It's rare when a newcomer's first release is a total package of success - honest, poignant lyrics set to solid melodies and a gorgeous voice. It doesn't get any better by a rookie than Church's debut. All dozen songs are written or co-written by Church, whose creations are not just fine country music, but have words that seem to be a sort of paradox considering the album title.

With one notable exception, Church sings of a "sinner" in some of these numbers as thumbing his nose at society's norms or doing what's not quite socially acceptable to achieve honest goals. Of course, this doesn't apply to the killer being executed in "Lightning," but there's a lot of drinking and patriotism going on.

The songs are heartfelt, short stories of life's events through the sharp eyes of Church, whose descriptions of everyday happenings help him define himself. Comparisons to Merle Haggard will be inevitable.

- KEN ROSENBAUM

Furtado's third CD bumps and grinds to hip-hop, sways to Latin beats, and chills to smooth and melodic pop. With Timbaland taking a prominent production role the disc revels in a rhythmic energy, and kicks off with the hot one-two of "Afraid" and pulsing "Maneater" and later swings and sways to the peppy "Do It." But Furtado can slow it down and shines on the lovely "In God's Hands" and relaxed groove of "Te Busque" with Juanes, mellowing the disc out. A couple of tracks are flat, but "Loose" is really tight musically and a solid mix of well-crafted and diverse songs.

- RICHARD PATON



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