March 2001 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

index page/ monthly listings /March01/

Marty STUART, Kristin WILKINSON and Larry PAXTON
All the Pretty Horses

Music from the Motion Picture
SONY SK 89465 [48:56]
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Billy Bob Thornton's adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's award winning first volume of his 'Border Trilogy' benefits greatly from a wonderfully vibrant, charming score that manages to transcend the confines of country music or even the conventions of the traditional western and sparkles with lyrical passion and real warmth.

The acoustic rhythm guitar of 'Cowboy's Dream' is very typical of the music as a whole and with its strong string backing and a few country styled twangs this makes a very appealing opening. The same can also be said for 'Canyon Sonata', although this is bleaker in tone and heavier on atmosphere. And this high standard is maintained with 'All the Pretty Horses', where more rhythm guitar and an attractive Mexican flavour support a strong melody that lingers in the memory.

But this is a soundtrack with strength in depth and many cues such as 'Malarki Opus in D Major', featuring some lively mandolin playing and 'Edge of the World' with Mexican guitar and brass in mellow romantic mode, make their mark. Thematically too there are impressive moments on 'John Grady's Angel', 'The King of Horses' and 'Long Journey Home', all restrained variations of the 'All the Pretty Horses' theme and after some spirited dance rhythms on the suitably titled 'Strawberry Tango, Parts 1 &2', there are also more thoughtful passages including a reprise of 'Canyon Sonata'. And as if this is not enough, there are still the poignant and affecting 'Far Away (Alejandra's Phone Call)' and the equally moving 'Ain't that a Drag' to admire. Really, it is this sheer variety of musical motifs that make this score so rewarding and you can add to the list of notable contributions both the Daniel Lanois written 'Waltz for Hope' plus 'Far Away', a gently affecting ballad with a vocal performance by co-composer Marty Simon himself, a major country performer in his own right (with several Grammys to his name).

This eminently likeable score has an engaging combination of familiar western characteristics (vaguely reminiscent in flashes of Elmer Bernstein) intertwined with something more personal and individual that manages to keep everything fresh. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Mark Hockley

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