Musical Score By: Jeff Beal

Music By: Ed Harris and Donald Rubinstein

Distributed by: Lakeshore Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            Based on the book of the same name by Robert B. Parker, Appaloosa revolves around two lawmen, Marshall Virgil Cole (Ed Harris) and Deputy Everett Hitch (Viggo Mortensen).  The two friends have been hired to defend an 1882 New Mexico territory from a murderous, outlaw rancher named Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons).  Along the way, things are disrupted by the arrival of Allison French (Renee Zellweger), a provocative woman that threatens to undermine Cole and Hitchís progress in enforcing the law and the friendship the two lawmen have shared for over a decade.

            The musical score of the Appaloosa Soundtrack is Jeff Beal, an Emmy Award winning composer known for his eclectic style of music.  Beal is fluent in jazz, classical, contemporary, electronic and world music and often blends these styles into his musical scores.  Known for his concert music as well as his film and television scores, Jeff Beal has been commissioned works include Redshift-Concerto for Orchestra for the Metropole Orchestra, Three Legged Race for the American Jazz Philharmonic, and Things Unseen for the Ying String Quartet.  Jeff Bealís musical scores for television and film include Pollock, No Good Deed, Door to Door, Monk, Nightmares and Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King, Rome, Carnivale, The Passion of Ayn Rand and more.

            The musical score of Appaloosa is classic western mixed every now and then with a hint of Oriental and Spanish sound.  Jeff Beal uses a great many stringed instruments for this score, including violins, guitars, banjos and a dulcimer, an Appalachian instrument lending some authenticity to the western sound.  Horns are used as well to accentuate events taking place in the film.  The music tells the story of the film quite nicely.  For example, The Kiss sounds rather ominous for such an enjoyable event, as Beal attempts to express the threat Allison poses to the team of Cole and Hitch.  Percussion and woodwinds signify an Indian Attack.  The mix of Spanish and Appalachian sound signify the mix of cultures in New Mexico.

            There are two songs featured on this album.  Youíll Never Leave My Heart is written and performed by Ed Harris, who sounds quite eerily like Johnny Cash.  The lyrics seem to indicate that this is a song from Virgil Cole to Allison French.  Itís a sad love song written in typical western style.  Ainít Nothing Like a Friend is written by Ed Harris and Donald Rubinstein.  The song is performed by Donald Rubinstein in a Bob Dylan-like style.  Rubinstein is not much of a singer, but the lyrics are enjoyable, an ode to lawmen Cole and Hitch.

            All-in-all, I found the Appaloosa Soundtrack to be enjoyable and the perfect soundtrack for a western.  I was rather shocked to discover that Ed Harris can actually sing halfway decently.  I was even more intrigued to discover that he could also write lyrics.  What a multi-talented individual Ed Harris is Ė he co-stars in the film, directs it, writes the lyrics in the songs for it and is actually listed as a co-producer of the soundtrack.  Fans of westerns and country music will be happy to add the Appaloosa Soundtrack to their collection.  Fans of Ed Harris will happily purchase the soundtrack just to listen to the man croon.


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