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Published On: Wed, Sep 3rd, 2014

Wish I Was Here (Music from the Motion Picture): Various Artists

wish i was hereVarious Artists
Wish I Was Here (Music from the Motion Picture)
(Columbia Records)

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Zach Braff is a celebrity who seems to evoke strong feelings of adoration or hatred. His famed directorial effort, Garden State, received much praise, but ultimately it was that film’s soundtrack that really resonated, going so far as to win a Grammy award.

I haven’t seen Wish I Was Here, so I can’t speak as to how the songs enhance the movie. Taken as a mix tape of sorts, the soundtrack is a solid, but perhaps too consistent effort. Most of the fifteen songs included here center on quiet voices and gentle acoustic guitar. What starts out sincere ends up feeling a bit twee by the end, particularly since Braff has enlisted The Shins and Coldplay just as he did on the Garden State soundtrack.

Braff does have fairly good taste, and it shows in some of his selections. Hozier has yet to release his debut LP, but the live take of “Cherry Wine” is raw and delicate at once, with his subdued delivery contrasting his dark, passionate lyrics. Badly Drawn Boy’s “The Shining” features an extended introduction of strings and brass, elements that return later in the song to elevate it to a higher standard. Jump Little Children’s “Mexico” was refreshing for introducing a bit of electric guitar and an edge of rock. This energy seeps away shortly after until Paul Simon’s brilliant “Obvious Child” brings back percussion and a beat you can even dance to.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with the soundtrack to Wish I Was Here, but as any person who makes a mix knows, there has to be a progression. Too much time is spent in the shadows and quiet. In trying to cling to heartstrings, Braff risks inducing apathy.

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Wish I Was Here (Music from the Motion Picture): Various Artists