The Game (Interscope)
The Game has titled this album "Jesus Piece," and an African-American Christ graces the cover. That doesn't mean Game has become a holy roller or that his newest work is ruled by religious imagery. Instead, it's about going bad and loving God -- how a rhyme-spitting MC can have a gangster lean while remaining spiritual.
There's an unadulterated bacchanalia of drugs, thugs, and carnality on "Celebration" and the barking "Ali Bomaye" untouched by the Holy Spirit. Yet Game's struggle between staying street and keeping God in his heart (and the club) is clear on bumping, dippy cuts like "Heaven's Arms," when he strolls into the VIP area with "Part the Red Sea in red Louboutins, who the don?/ Packing heat like two LeBrons/ It keep you higher than heaven's arms."
The tension between earthly goods and higher ground is most palpable when Jamie Foxx goes with Game to the Lord's house on "Hallelujah." After telling the Almighty he's trying to reach Him with all his might, Game admits that thinking about young girls while in church is wrong: "I wanna live righteous and you know I love Jesus/ But you can't catch the Holy Ghost in a Prius."
--A.D. AMOROSI, Philadelphia Inquirer
Danny Elfman (Sony)
Four-time Oscar nominee Danny Elfman gives listeners a nice flair for Bernard Herrmann's brilliant-yet-scary style as Alfred Hitchcock's longtime composer without overdoing it on the creep factor.
That's good, because this movie -- oddly enough -- is a love story about Hitchcock's relationship with his wife, Alma Reville, during the filming of Hitchcock's most famous movie, Psycho. The contrast between lush, beautiful, and edge-of-your-seat tension makes this orchestrated score one of Elfman's better ones.
And Elfman, one of Hollywood's top composers, has had his share of great scores, with credits that include Milk, Good Will Hunting, Big Fish, Men in Black, Edward Scissorhands, Planet of the Apes, and Alice in Wonderland.
On a side note, Elfman adapted Herrmann's original score in 1998 for a Psycho remake directed by Gus Van Sant.
-- TOM HENRY
Various artists (Big Machine)
One thing you can say for sure about Nashville, the prime-time soap opera Wednesday nights on ABC: It gets the music right. As you can hear on this disc, even with the show's actors doing all the singing, the results are as good as anything the city's Music Row has to offer.
Perhaps that's not surprising, because (the sometimes overrated) T Bone Burnett did the bulk of the producing, along with the always-estimable Buddy Miller. They have a terrific collection of songs to work with, and they manage to strike a balance between commercial accessibility and rootsy character.
"Love Like Mine" and "Telescope," sung by Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere's character), exude a spitfire attitude that would fit right in on a Miranda Lambert album. Several other numbers play up country's duet tradition, as with Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton) and Deacon Clayborne (Charles Esten) on "No One Will Ever Love You," and Gunnar Scott (Sam Palladio) and Scarlett O'Connor (Clare Bowen) on "If I Didn't Know Better" and "When the Right One Comes Along."
And Britton and Panettiere's rousing, rocked-up "Wrong Song" is every bit the show-stopper that it was in the TV show.
-- NICK CRISTIANO, Philadelphia Inquirer