In the liner notes to the Magnolia soundtrack, director Paul Thomas Anderson writes of his film, "I sat down to write an adaptation of Aimee Mann songs." That's high praise, particularly considering the results. Mann's music plays an integral role in Magnolia, setting the mood, underscoring the action, and in one memorable scene serving as a communal inner dialogue. It takes a certain type of artist to tie together Anderson's assortment of characters, and Mann does a beautiful job, from her cover of Harry Nilsson's "One" to her eight originals. Of the latter, "Wise Up" previously turned up on the Jerry Maguire soundtrack (odd considering the crucial role it plays in the movie), while "Build That Wall" dates back to 1990. The rest, however, come from this year, and their inclusion is made all the more welcome by Mann's label difficulties, which have kept her new music out of circulation for a while. Any album that finds an audience for songs like "Momentum" does a service, but the fact that it works so well as a companion to Anderson's film makes it all the more indispensable. The inclusion of two Supertramp songs and Gabrielle's 1993 dance hit "Dreams" might not be so essential, depending on your tolerance for such things.

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