A star-studded nod to Italian film scores

"Rome'' by Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi feat. Jack White and Norah Jones

By James Reed
Globe Staff / May 17, 2011

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The great, and only, disappointment with “Rome’’ is that once you’ve heard the album, you’ll want to watch the movie it accompanies. Except there is no movie. Imagined as an homage to Italian film scores from the 1960s and ’70s, “Rome’’ is a fabrication from the minds of producer Danger Mouse (a.k.a. Brian Burton, of Gnarls Barkley and Broken Bells fame) and composer-arranger Daniele Luppi. As such, fabled film composer Ennio Morricone’s spirit figures prominently into this project.

“Rome’’ proudly requires you to listen to it from start to finish. Pick and choose your songs (or downloads), and you will lose the cinematic sweep of the music. Much of the album is instrumental, imbued with swells of majestic strings, organic acoustic and electric guitars, and hallucinatory chants. Think of it as the soundtrack to a spaghetti western that takes place in modern-day Los Angeles.

For the songs with lyrics, Burton and Luppi enlisted two singers in the starring roles, each for a trio of tunes. Jack White turns up as a renegade ramblin’ man on “Two Against One’’ (“I keep my enemies closer/ Than my mirror ever gets to me’’). And Norah Jones smolders in the dusky confines of “Season’s Trees,’’ her cadences coy and languid as the music drifts by.

White and Jones are the marquee collaborators, but they are by no means the only attractions. Luppi also rounded up musicians who had played on Morricone’s classic film scores for westerns such as “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’’ (including the haunting Italian singer Edda Dell’Orso on the opening track, “Theme of ‘Rome’’). (Out today)

ESSENTIAL “Two Against One’’