February 2003 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Gary S. Dalkin
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Music composed by Stephen Endelman
  Available on DECCA 440 064 851-1   Running time: 43.36


"Evelyn" comes from the true story of Irishman Desmond Doyle (Pierce Brosnan), a single parent whose unemployment in the early 1950s led to a battle with Ireland's government--not to mention the Catholic Church--regarding custody of his four children. His daughter (newcomer Sophie Vavasseur) provides the story's title and focus.

Striving to support the attendant emotions is composer Stephen Endelman. His is a necessary effort; still, the musician leans toward ethnic and atmospheric rather than personal and engaging. Shouldn't a story that tugs at the heartstrings have music that follows suit? Accented by pennywhistle and Celtic fiddle, the orchestra gently sways, hardly changing timbre despite a few attempts at heightened drama. Alongside toe-tapping jigs and other source cues performed by the Grogan Family band, the music has an innocent, cosy theme for much of its running time. The film's titular melody manages to be inviting. This is supposed to be heartwarming, after all. Yet the soundtrack prompts a feeling of acedia. There are no challenges, few surprises, and at less than 45 minutes the recording nevertheless feels slightly overlong. Endelman's score consists of enjoyable but generic material.

The featured songs provide the greatest interest. The disc begins with Van Morrison's soft rock song for the picture, 'Sitting On Top of the World'. Elsewhere, Brosnan affably croaks the Irish tunes 'On the Banks of the Roses' and 'The Parting Glass'. The Endelman-composed 'Angel Rays' closes the album with a lovely performance by Sissel. These are worth a listen.

It probably says something when an album looks a bit better than it sounds. With lots of grays and golds dominating the artwork and movie stills, notes from Brosnan, and readable print (for the most part), this soundtrack seems classier than most. Decca forget the track times, though.

Stephen Endelman's "Evelyn" is a mixed bag, and in the interest of full disclosure I must admit that I had some trouble sorting it out. The contents include the wit, culture, and narrative precision that can make for a dynamic soundtrack... The mixture simply wears thin.

Jeffrey Wheeler

** 2

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