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Joe Stilgoe: Songs on Film: The Sequel

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Referring to fellow Brit Joe Stilgoe as the “next Jamie Cullum” doesn’t quite wash, since he and Cullum are, at 37, precisely the same age. Still, the similarities are striking: same boundless energy and cheeky precociousness, similarly wide-ranging musical tastes and, most important, comparably substantive cred as singers and pianists. Two years ago Stilgoe released Songs on Film. Now comes the thoroughly enjoyable sequel.

Alongside bassist Tom Farmer and drummer Ben Reynolds, Stilgoe opens with “What’s On?,” a rockin’ cruise through his cinema-going youth with a slick doo-wop feel, segueing into the 30-second “Newsreel,” essentially self-promotion worthy of Monty Python. The eclectic track list blends songs written expressly for films with others simply woven into movie soundtracks, including Broadway standards (Sweet Charity‘s “The Rhythm of Life,” West Side Story‘s “Cool”) showcased in big-screen adaptations and pop and jazz hits used to propel storylines. The latter range from easy-swinging reimaginings of “Afternoon Delight” (featured in Anchorman) and Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell” (famously twisted to in Pulp Fiction) to a cheerily furtive “People Are Strange” (The Lost Boys) and a skillfully modulated “Caravan” (Whiplash). Rounding out this energetic, fun-loving olio: a sweetly executed “Arthur’s Theme,” a movingly balladic read of High Society‘s “You’re Sensational,” a rollicking “Footloose” and a charming vocal twining with Curtis Stigers (who doubles on sax) for Randy Newman’s “If I Didn’t Have You,” from Monsters, Inc.

Originally Published