If Brian Burton’s career has taught as one thing, it’s to expect the unexpected. As an artist and as a producer he has moved from project to project, from genre to genre with apparent ease. Can there be anyone else working today with a CV that includes names as diverse as Gorillaz, Sparklehorse, U2 and MF Doom? Even so, Rome is a move that few of us could have predicted – teaming up with Italian composer Daniele Luppi for a project five years in the making, recorded on analogue equipment and inspired by spaghetti western soundtracks. A crazy idea it may be, ‘Crazy’ it is not.
If the aim was to recreate the days of The Good, The Bad & The Ugly then it’s very much a case of job done. The record sounds lush and expansive, yet still feels genuine (thanks, no doubt to the recording approach). It is, inevitably, more of a background listening experience than anything else but Burton has been savvy enough to realise that he needed a couple of recognisable voices to helm the album’s songs. Jack White inevitably sounds at home on any project that has authenticity as its major concern but it’s Norah Jones who proves the biggest surprise here. Taken out of her comfort zone, she sounds like a whole new artist, her voice perfectly suited to these surroundings. Not an album to set the world alight then, but one that certainly makes it a more pleasant place and broadens that CV even more.