Hatfields & McCoys

Composed By: John Debney and Tony Morales

Distributed by: Silva Screen Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            Who hasn't heard of the famous feud between the two families known as the Hatfields and the McCoys?  No one really knows how it all started, but the feud has continued to this date.  The History Channel tackled the tale with a three-part miniseries that aired May 28-30, 2012.  The series begins with two close friends Anse Hatfield (Kevin Costner) and Randall McCoy (Bill Paxton), returning from the Civil War battlefield to their respective homes in West Virginia and just across the Tug River in Kentucky.  Tensions are running high in their neighboring homes and misunderstandings and resentments spark a war between the clans, embroiling friends, neighbors and outside forces in a battle that will span over a century.

            The musical score of Hatfields & McCoys was composed by the team of John Debney and Tony Morales.  American composer John Debney began his scoring career shortly after earning his Bachelor of Arts in Music Composition from the California Institute of the Arts.  His first feature film was Hocus Pocus and he has gone on to compose for a multitude of film genres, creating the musical score for such popular movies as The Princess Diaries, Spy Kids, Georgia Rule, Valentine's Day, Predators, Machete, Iron Man 2 and more. 

            Tony Morales is an American composer who has been enthralled with music since learning to play the guitar at the age of six.  After performing in a number of bands, Morales decided to focus his attention on scoring.  Since then, he has created musical scores for a number of video games, television series like Warehouse 13 and The Riches and has co-composed scores for movies like The Expendables, The Final Destination, Fast and Furious and more.

            According to Debney and Morales, the two were quite enthusiastic about creating the score for Hatfields & McCoys.  When Debney was first approached about the score, he was intrigued, but after "seeing the first few scenes cut together, my curiosity was replaced by sheer excitement."  Morales says that the two were both intrigued and excited about being a part of the project and agreed that they wanted to create "a memorable score that honored the time and region while maintaining a contemporary sound." 

            The resulting score features a strong theme with Celtic influences and infused by sorrowful vocals by Lisbeth Scott.  The music has a backwoodsy feel thanks to the plucked guitar strings, banjos, fiddle and violins.  The sorrowful vocals represent a friendship that dissolves into disaster and death very quickly and haunts the two clans forever after.  The main theme comes up often in the 39-track soundtrack, but not so often as to be monotonous.  In fact, I couldn't get enough of this soundtrack.  I loved the soulful vocals and the beauty of the music performed by traditional Appalachian instruments.  It tells the ups and downs (more downs than ups) of the two clans as they struggle to rise to the top of a war that should never have happened.           

            The music created for Hatfields & McCoys by John Debney and Tony Morales is hauntingly beautiful and a perfect representation of the age and time in which the feud takes place.  I have no doubt that the music fits perfectly well with the movie and, thanks to this album, have every intention of finding out by watching the miniseries in its entirety.  Fans of the series are bound to find the Hatfields & McCoys a steal at only $6.99US to download the hour and seventeen minute digital album - a terrific value for a well-composed and executed film score.


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