There's a narrative to the soundtrack for Bradley Cooper's 2018 remake of A Star Is Born, one that mirrors the one told in the movie. Often, the album features dialogue ripped from the screen -- a full 15 tracks, actually, amounting to seven minutes of this 74-minute album -- which means A Star Is Born almost plays like a Disney record from the '60s or '70s: it's designed to tide listeners over until they get a chance to see the movie again. Of course, A Star Is Born is a musical, so its soundtrack is filled with full-fledged songs, all of which serve the story that the dialogue gooses along. Strip out the distracting dialogue tracks and the plot of A Star Is Born is still evident, as the music moves from the grungy Americana of Cooper's character, through his affecting duets with Lady Gaga, toward her flashy pop, and then culminating with "I'll Never Love Again," the song where the two estranged lovers reunite. Each of these phases is expertly executed. Lukas Nelson assists Cooper in the rangy grunge of "Black Eyes," while Jason Isbell's spare "Maybe It's Time" is an affecting slice of Americana. The second stage, where Gaga is duetting with Cooper, fuses their sensibilities seamlessly, particularly on the aching ballad "Shallow" and loping country-rock of "Music to My Eyes," which was co-written by Nelson and Gaga. Her pop section plays like its own EP, and it's snappy, stylish, and savvy, particularly on the retro-disco of "Why Did You Do That?" and soulful "Heal Me." All the songs make sense narratively and on their own, so they hold together well and amount to a first-rate soundtrack.
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