Composed by: John R. Graham
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Alleged stars Nathan West as Charles Anderson, a talented young reporter living in a small, declining Tennessee town. He is happy in his job and his romance with fiancée Rose (Ashley Johnson), but Charles wants more and he sees his chance at the big leagues in the Scopes “Monkey Trial” of 1925. Becoming the protégé of Baltimore Sun editor H.L. Mencken (Colm Meaney), ethics and morals become skewed as Charles realizes that sometimes lies make better press than the truth.
The musical score of Alleged was created by American composer John R. Graham. Born in Charlottesville, Virginia, John R. Graham studied singing and orchestral writing at Charterhouse School in Surrey, England. He began his musical career singing and performing in bands while studying traditional orchestral music. He has worked on musical scores for such notable films and television series as Bitch Slap, My Brother’s War, Pensacola: Wings of Gold and American Strays.
Alleged is a period piece set in the roaring 20s, a time where some innocence still presides. This sense of innocence for the main character goes horribly askew at some point in the film and the musical score for this downward spiral captures this perfectly. The soundtrack begins in a fresh vein. I loved the track Swinging. If you listen carefully to this track you can actually hear the triangle count out the back and forth motion of a swing. As the track nears its end, you are given a sense of adventure like soaring over a countryside. The two sounds are so drastically different that the track seems to stand out.
The following two tracks, Anticipating Riches and Ballgame, have a fun, bluegrass feel, featuring banjos, fiddles, washboards and bones or spoons, traditional bluegrass instruments. The music is fun and innocent sounding, the last of the innocence to be found on this album. Mencken is a dark track heavy on piano and strings and it is here that we start to see Charles lose some of his earlier innocence and morality. Train Comes In is an exciting piece that sounds remarkably familiar - like something I might have heard in an old western. The underlying music defines the movement of the train along the tracks, while the outbursts of orchestra give the sense of oncoming adventure and the banjos give the last ounce of country bumpkin significance to Charles’ character.
The rest of the album is darker in nature as Charles struggles with his sense of morality and what is right as opposed to what will sell story wise in the leading newspapers. It’s here that the album lost me a bit. I was enjoying the fresh attitude of the beginning of the album and perhaps that was what the music was supposed to do - make the listener mourn the innocence of Charles Anderson’s youth.
That being said, I found the Alleged Soundtrack to be quite an interesting mix of music. The soundtrack definitely achieves what Graham set out to do which was to use the music to define the characters without creating a soundtrack that catered only to the music that the characters might listen to at the time. The music defines the characters’ souls in this film, not the period in which the film took place. I enjoyed the Alleged Soundtrack and its diversity of sound.