Don McKay

Composed by: Steve Bramson

Distributed by: Lakeshore Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            Don McKay (Thomas Hayden Church), a quiet, unassuming janitor at the local high school, has just received a letter informing him that his former high school sweetheart Sonny (Elisabeth Shue), whom he hasnít seen in twenty-five years, is terminally ill.  He drops everything and rushes to be at her side.  Fully reconciled, they return to their former romance, hoping to get married before Sonny dies.  However, when Don has a fatal run in with Sonnyís doctor (James Rebhorn), their reunion threatens to be anything but happy, especially when Don decides the best course of action is to hide the body of the doctor in the woods behind Sonnyís house rather than go to the police.  What follows is a dangerous game of deception which can only end badly for all those involved.

            The musical score of Don McKay was created by Steve Bramson, a composer whose music career dates back to infancy.  Born to a father who was a Julliard graduate who became owner of a community music school and music store in New York City and a mother who gained notoriety as an operatic soprano, it seemed inevitable that Bramson would have a love for music.  Despite earning a degree in economics from the University of New Hampshire, Bramson spent a great deal of time in the schoolís music department, performing and arranging for the university jazz ensemble.  He eventually enrolled in the Arrangers Holiday program at the Eastman School of Music, a move which revitalized his commitment to a music career.

            Bramsonís first foray into film scoring began with short animation projects.  This eventually landed him a gig creating music for Tiny Toon Adventures.  Shortly afterwards, he began working on musical scores for television series, including Our House, Matlock, The Father Dowling Mysteries, Jake and the Fatman and JAG.  Movie score composition credits include The Crude Oasis, Casualties and In Enemy Hands.

            The storyline of Don McKay pretty much dictates what kind of music the soundtrack will be composed of.  The sadness of two lovers separated by time and events for over twenty-five years reuniting at the point where one is dying is a dead giveaway that there will be some sad music.  With the death of Sonnyís doctor at Donís hands, one can pretty much expect quite a bit of ominous music.  And of course, the fact that he is trying to hide this music screams out for some eerie, mystery tunes.  Steve Bramson supplies all three styles, combining them into one sad and discomfiting musical score filled with pianos and strings with an eerily silent backgrounds.

            The resulting soundtrack will definitely send shivers down your spine on a cold, dark night, even more so than the soundtrack for any horror movie.  With his musical score for Don McKay, Bramson perfectly reflects the main characterís fear, despair and self-loathing as he struggles to accept the man he was and the man he has now become since reuniting with his lost love.  As a movie soundtrack, the music is the perfect accompaniment for the visual content of the film.  As a stand alone album, the music is actually rather beautiful in its sadness.  I wouldnít listen to this on a bad day as it may depress you even more, but on an average day, listening to this soundtrack will enhance oneís ability to respect the masterful artwork that is a beautifully composed piece of music.


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