Various Artists: ‘Home’ Track-By-Track Soundtrack Review

Rihanna is gearing up to make her voice-acting debut in DreamWork’s Home, in which she will be playing the role of Tip, a young girl who finds herself separated from her mother by an alien race. Alongside the film, Rihanna created a concept album that serves as a soundtrack for the release. The album features several contributions from the musician herself as well as a collection of tracks from other artists such as Charli XCX, Kiesza, and Jennifer Lopez (who is appearing in the film as well). The Home soundtrack reflects Rihanna’s journey in the film and is filled with inspirational cuts of impressive music.

Rihanna kicks off the Home Soundtrack with “Towards The Sun,” an inspiring ode to maintaining your strength in the face of any obstacles you may face. The track showcases Rihanna’s full (and damn impressive) vocal range with the Barbadian beauty starting the track out in her highest register on the folk-inspired entrance before bringing things back to a more comfortable middle range on the verses. Her voice is a warm embrace, filled with encouragement as she rises above the guiding production. The song is the equivalent of embarking upon a journey, and Rihanna is without a doubt the ideal tour guide for the ride!

Clarence Coffee of the Florida-based production and writing crew Monsters and Strangerz bring the magic to Home with “Run To Me,” a song that promises to light the way for a loved one if they are ever struggling. The sweet song evolves as it progresses, starting out with Coffee’s voice over a guitar line that gives way to a soaring electronic dance break that takes the place of a traditional chorus. The break is lush with whirring and twinkling production. As the song progresses both the dance breaks and the verses grow in terms of production, and the song reaches its peak as Coffee comes in for the bridge over top of the soaring dance break. The track embeds a deep message inside the innovative production, making it vastly appealing and all the more commendable for its creativity.

Kiesza details the process of falling in love on “Cannonball.” The mid-tempo track compares falling in love to a cannonball soaring through the sky, filled with potential and inescapable in its power. Kiesza’s voice is warm and welcoming as she sings along to the instrumental. It is a beautiful track that would easily stand out as a solo release, but I feel that it gets lost in the midst of so many strong cuts on the soundtrack, especially when following Coffee’s huge hit.

Rihanna absolutely stuns on “As Real As You And Me,” a piano-driven ballad about appreciating every moment you share with a loved one because you never know when it will all come to a close. The track exudes an honest fragility with Rihanna’s voice subtly breaks as she contemplates all the ways that she could be separated from her loved one. Although fans have come to expect ratchetry from Rihanna, it is nice to be reminded that she is a vastly talented artist that is capable of more than simply singing about strip clubs and dollar bills. She is just as capable of displaying raw emotion over a simple piano instrumental, and sometimes that is entirely called for.

After drying your tears from “As Real As You And Me” let your troubles soar away with Charli XCX’s contribution to the soundtrack, the punk inspired pop masterpiece “Red Balloons.” The track hails from the recording session for her Sucker album, and resonates with a similar youthful sense of rebellion. Charli’s vocals rise over a frenzied production as she sings about letting loose and having the time of your life with your friends. Her vocals are insistent, undeniably upbeat, and they perfectly compliment the spastic production of racing beats and electronic synth. “Red Balloon” is one of the most exuberant tracks on the album, and it is sure to incite some riotous dancing, which Charli XCX would undoubtedly appreciate! Dance on rebels. Dance on!

There is a time for dancing, and it is most definitely on Rihanna’s final contribution to the soundtrack, “Dancing In The Dark.” The song is a carefree song about losing yourself in the rhythm and lighting the night with your energy, and Rihanna provides a similarly bright vocal performance on the track. “Dancing In The Dark’s” production is exceptional. A slightly grimy bass line resides under an otherwise light instrumentation. The beat changes up several times over the song, giving a dancer ample opportunities to expend their energies. The song is reminiscent of some of Rihanna’s earliest releases, and it is a sound that Rihanna sounds entirely comfortable revisiting.

Jacob Plant’s “Drop That” continues with the dance theme that has been explored on the last few tracks; however, where the previous efforts have called for some carefree artful grooving, “Drop That” calls for some epic stopping, dropping, and rolling preferably under the bright lights of a club dance floor. Would I break it down to this in a club? Without a doubt. This is the perfect track for backing it up on the dance floor while waving your drink in the air, meaning that it may not be the appropriate cut for a children’s film… just saying. That being said, Plant serves a fierce instrumental dance track that creates a sense of desperate urgency without any obvious effort. The song has a darker and deeper bass line and keeps things interesting with a series of unexpected drops and changeups. It is really an intriguing listen, and I’ll probably be dancing to it nonstop for the next month. I just don’t know if it fits in with the rest of the soundtrack.

Jennifer Lopez’s standout track “Feel The Light” brings the Home soundtrack to a close with its sweet production and stunning vocal performance. The track begins with a gentle piano riff before evolving into something that is truly magical. As the riff is repeated a soft bass line comes in, adding a sense of depth to the otherwise light track. J.Lo delicately croons along to the otherworldly production before the piano picks up and she enters the track in earnest. The accomplished popstar serves what is easily one of her most expressive and powerful vocal performances as she encourages listeners to follow their dreams without letting anything get in their ways.

Jennifer Lopez sings with a maturity and depth that can only be acquired after having truly lived a lifetime worth of adventures and experiences of your own. While Rihanna’s ballads exude a youthful innocence and heartbreaking earnest nature, J Lo. comes off as the worldly mother, ready to offer advice and wipe the tears from your eyes if you fall along the way. As such, “Feel The Light” is the perfect close to the album, and I predict that it will have a strong run on the charts with its release.

The Home soundtrack is a strong compilation that is engaging and exciting for any child to enjoy while still bringing a strong sense of musicality for more adult listeners. This is a soundtrack that anyone could listen to. It is filled with uplifting messages, impressive production, and features from several of the hottest musicians on the block. Rihanna has truly compiled something that exudes power and that would be well received regardless of whether or not it was attached to the film. Pick up a copy of the Home soundtrack on iTunes.