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Friday, January 19, 2007

CD REVIEW - Blood Diamond

Blood Diamond
Music by James Newton Howard
Varese Sarabande VSD 6780 (EU)
24 Tracks 61:37 mins

For this adventure, set at the time of the Civil War in Sierra Leone, and starring Leonard Di Caprio, Djimon Hounsou and the ever-lovely Jennifer Connelly, James Newton Howard has written one of his most enjoyable scores for a while. Utilising full orchestra and African choir, as well as the vocal talents of Youssou N'Dour, and the Senegalise Drum Ensemble, to give his music the appropriate African feel, the score is anchored by a very hummable main theme, first introduced in the album's second track "Crossing the Bridge," with fine support from both the aforementioned N'Dour and Ensemble. It then appears in a much more laid-back, guitar-lead setting in "Archer & Solomon Hike," and then in variations throughout several more tracks, including the inspirational "I Can Carry You" and "London," in which it builds with full instrumental and vocal forces to a percussive crescendo, the track continuing trough the final score cue "Solomon Vandy, "which becomes very instrumental before the main theme returns to close proceeedings.
Along the way, there are some exciting and dramatic action sequences, often highly rhythmic and percussive, like "Village Attack" "Fall of Freetown" and "Diamond Mine Bombed;" some emotional writing in "Solomon Finds His Family," "Goodbyes" and "Your other Loves You;" and some tender romance in "Maddy & Archer" and "Thought I'd Never Call?"
The album includes three numbers by Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars, Emmanuel Jal with Abdel Gadir Salim, and Bal Bureau featuring Masta Kent and Bullet Rhymes, but thankfully these are grouped together at the end, and thus take nothing away from Howard's fine score.


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