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Friday, November 21, 2008


Music by Clint Eastwood
Varese Sarabande VSD 6934 (EU)
16 Tracks 41:37 mins

Clint Eastwood's film is set in 1920s Los Angeles, and is inspired by true events. It starts Agelina Jolie as a mother whose son is abducted and apparently later found by the authorities, but she is convinced the boy who is returned to her is not her son.
Having once called upon the services of Lennie Niehaus to score his films, just adding the odd pretty tune here and there, in recent times Eastwood has taken over full scoring duties and does so again here. Now, most of us can come up with a tune if we put our minds to it; even I have written a few songs in the past. But, I needed the help of a trained musician/producer to really bring them to life and here, Eastwood is of course again assisted by Niehaus, who orchestrated and conducted the music, with arrangements by Clint's son Kyle and Michael Stevens. The results are presented on this disc, which begins with a pretty good "Main Title" theme which is essentially in two parts; after a smoky jazz opening, the piece warms nicely on piano. Not surprisingly, Clint being a bit of a jazz pianist and all, it's a piano-heavy score, continuing with "Ride to School," which starts on piano, before developing into a variant of the smoky opening to the main theme. The theme continues on piano in "Mom's on Call/Late to Trolley," with both elements being present this time, ending, as it does with the warm piano again.
The music takes a more dramatic turn in the anguished strings and melancholy cello solo of "Looking for Walter/Waiting for Police;" continuing disturbingly in "Where do you Live/Who are You?" "I Want My Son Back" presents sad strings and piano variations on the main theme, part 2. "Arrive at Ranch" offers a tentative piano, guitar and strings variation on same, before gloomy strings take over in "Looking for Sanford;" leading to a disturbing climax. More gloomy strings follow in "People Can't Change," and continue in "We Killed Some Kids," taking a decidedly dark and haunted turn with distant, tortured voices. The anguished "I Won't Sign it" is followed by more gloomy strings and piano, after a guitar intro, in "Sanford Digs;" the mood continuing in "Room 18."
Thank goodness, the smoky first half of the main theme returns to bring a bit of melody and hopefulness at the start of "What is Happening/Trial Montage," developing into a nice variation on same. But it's only a brief respite, I'm afraid, as variations on "We Killed Some Kids" dominate "Davey Tells Story." The penultimate track, "I Want to go Home," presents a solemn, cello-lead rendition of the main theme, part 2; becoming sunnier as it continues into the "End Title," before a troubled development of the first part of the main theme takes over, ending with a melancholy cello solo.
In conclusion, this is probably Eastwood's most accomplished score to date, as good as most dramatic scores I have heard in recent times. Mind you, how much of that is down to Eastwood, and how much to Niehaus, we may never know.


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