TV

Sondtrack review: Sons of liberty (Lorne Balfe – 2015)

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“Sons of liberty” is a History channel miniseries dramatizing the American Revolution in Boston. A miniseries from the channel that brought us Vikings sounds very good. And when the music is written by Hans Zimmer (the main theme) and Lorne Balfe, the guys who brought us the wonderful “The Bible” score, I am getting even more excited.

And there it is…The “Main title theme” has everything I could ask for: it’s heroic, melodic and it builds up into a motivational anthem that makes me want to rise up and defend the cause. There are horns to signify the call to arms the string rhythm is almost piratesque in sound. The theme takes a little melodic break before exploding again with that bold and inspirational motif. The main theme makes a statement and if I can find a piece like this in a score I am happy. I am already adding it to my running playlist right next to “The bible” songs.

Lorne Balfe takes over then. “Boston Radicals” keeps the fresh rhythm and the stride of the main theme. There are no shadows here and I can imagine the idealistic young men and women happy and convinced that their ideas will make a difference. I hear youthful joy and almost silly optimism in this one. The stride gets even more intense in “Dark horses” which is just an excellent and invigorating action theme. It’s not epic but it doesn’t need to be. It has a great pace and it comes to an abrupt end when the elegiac “Seider’s death” begins. It has religious choirs, bell and even bagpipes in it, a true funeral song.

“Queen and country” is another swing from the chandelier sounding cue. I keep getting the feeling of pirate music from some of the action themes of “Sons of liberty”. The music has the same bold excitement in it and you can tell that Lorne was involved in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” scores. It’s paying of right here. The mood changes then to reflective. “Small victories” has a Celtic like melancholy in it and in the same time it makes me think of some of the music from the first season of “Game of thrones”. It has the same slippery minimalistic sound warning you that you should beware of the things hiding in the fog.

At times though “Sons of liberty” feels like it was written on autopilot. Some of the cues pass very quickly for me and leave nothing behind. They are enjoyable in the moment, because even autopilot Lorne Balfe is still great, but once they are over I forget about them. The sensation is enhanced when I hear the wonderful slow piano variation of “Sons of liberty”. It shows that a lot of care and attention has been put into this piece. It has heart and it sits near me and tells me a story… a beautiful but tragic story.

While listening to “Smuggling” (a long and tense cue) I realize that I probably expected this score to get a rise out of me. I think it was a little too quiet or laid back. Except the moments I already mentioned they aren’t very many to get my blood boiling and inspire me. I guess Lorne focused more on the more suspenseful moments of the story in this score and not on the heroic ones. Until I’ve seen the miniseries I can’t comment on this ratio.

“Boston siege” brings the raw strings back and becomes one of the more interesting tracks from “Sons of liberty”. Again the Celtic echoes work and make me fantasize. The next cues again are pleasant but a little generic. I have to remind myself that not every score can be “The bible” and enjoy this music without asking a lot from it. “Sons of liberty” leaves me with a killer main theme and a lot of enjoyable moments. Will I revisit it? Not in its entirety…

Cue rating: 81 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 13 / 50

Album excellence: 25%

Highlights:

Sons of liberty main title theme

Dark horses

Queen and country

Sons of liberty variation

Boston siege

Sons of liberty reprise

 

 

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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