Film scores

Soundtrack review: Wild horses (Timothy Williams – 2015)

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“Wild Horses” is the story of story of Texas Ranger Samantha Payne (Luciana Duvall) who reopens a 15-year-old missing person case, and uncovers evidence that suggests that the boy was likely murdered on a ranch belonging to wealthy family man, Scott Briggs (Robert Duvall). When Scott’s estranged son (James Franco) unexpectedly returns home during the investigation, Samantha becomes even more convinced that the Briggs family was involved, and will stop at nothing to discover the truth about the boy’s death – even putting her own life in jeopardy. The score was written by Timothy Williams and this is a name I get excited about because he always comes with something different.

The score opens with the theme for the estranged son. It’s a dense and melancholic piece with shows a heavy burden that had time to settle down and grow roots inside someone. For a few moments there I get a Nick Cave / Warren Ellis vibe and that’s always good. That is a special kind of sadness that I can always relate and connect to. This is a story I want to hear and an imaginary character I would like to follow.

The mood gets darker and deeper then. The ranch / western vibe is kept with strings of banjos I think and the composer does a very good job of setting the scenery of the story. Then Timothy Williams does something even nicer and brings homage to the most beautiful country ballads you could think of. “Benny’s return” is so good and so perfect in sound that I feel as if all my previous experience of listening to country music has been concentrated in this wonderful and soulful tune. I can see the camp fire, the cowboy hats and I can smell the moonshine. This theme has the hopeful melancholy that country music shines at. I just had to stop and replay this cue a few times.

“Benny’s return” was just a glimpse or a flashback of happier times. “Secrets and lies” returns to the thick and minimalistic swampy darkness this score settles into. I am worried when I listen to the music, I see shadows everywhere, I see things buried and I don’t feel safe. Timothy Williams does a great job of making me as a listener feel restless. Towards the end the cue gets atmospheric and reaches that sweet spot inside me. And when an ambient motif like this comes along, for me time stands still and I feel the seconds pass much slower. I get wonderfully lost in there.

I got a lot more from “Wild horses” than I expected. In only 11 minutes of score Timothy Williams managed to raise all sorts of feelings inside me and also brought a healthy dose of summer melancholy with those pure country tunes. If you are a fan of the genre, of the composer or if you just want to hear something quite rare in today’s film music, give this one a try. You will spend some meaningful moments with it.

 

Cue rating: 90 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 6 / 11

Album excellence: 56%

Highlights:

Martin Briggs

Benny’s Return

Secrets And Lies

 

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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