Music Inspired by the Film Roma
Songs By: Various Artists
Distributed by: Sony Music Masterworks
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Set in the Colonia Roma district in Mexico City, the dramatic film, Roma, follows Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), a maid working for a middle-class family in the 1970s. The film expresses her struggles at work and off duty and the daily issues faced by women during this time of unrest in the world. Written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón, the film is based on a great deal of Cuarón’s own childhood and is considered a love letter to the women who raised him.
On February 8, 2019, Sony Music Masterworks released Music Inspired by the Film Roma containing fifteen tracks of music by artists like Patti Smith, Beck, Bu Cuaron, Billie Eilish, Sonido Gallo Negro, DJ Shadow, Asaf Avidan, Laura Marling and more. After completing the film, Alfonso Cuarón came up with the idea of having some of his favorite music artists create songs inspired by the movie. He was interested in what sort of songs his film would inspire artists to create. With the help of music supervisor Lynn Fainchtein and Randall Poster, Cuarón approached artists of all backgrounds and genres to create unique songs based on what they saw in the film, or cover songs based on music they heard in the film.
Found on the album are a new version of the 1996 song, Wing, by Patti Smith, a cover of the Mary Hopkins’ folk song Those Were the Days, performed by Laura Marling and Beck’s re-imagining of the 1982 Colourbox song Tarantula. When I Was Older, by Billie Eilish, is inspired by the musings of the youngest child Cleo cares for who often tells tales of his previous lives. Marooned is a funky jazz track by El-P & Wilder Zoby that may be inspired by a film Cleo and the family watch in Roma, but could also be a song that parallels how both Cleo and her employer, Sofia, feel in this particular moment of their lives. Cleo Who Takes Care of You is a song by Ibeyi that points out all Cleo does for everyone and wonders who is in Cleo’s corner during her time of need.
There are a number of interesting and enjoyable tracks on this album, but my favorites feature mixes of actual sound from the film. Cumbia del Borras is a track dedicated to the family’s dog and features the sound of Borras throughout. Tepeji 21 (The Sounds of Roma) by Ciudad de Mexico and Roma by T Bone Burnett feature a mix of sound from the film. The sounds of the street and home at Tepeji 21 are the music that comprises this track, whereas the Roma features sounds from the streets of Roma - the vendors, the children, the sounds of the city - mixed in with music.
Music Inspired by the Film Roma is one of those albums that has merits as a standalone, but is mostly meant for fans of the film…those fans who can understand the various songs and their meanings as they pertain to the movie. This is one of those albums that will probably only satisfy a certain niche of people, but, being one of those people, I found it to be quite enjoyable.