Film scores

Soundtrack review: Diablo (Timothy Williams – 2016)

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“Diablo” is a 2016 Western about a young Civil War veteran named Jackson who wakes up to find his beautiful wife kidnapped by a band of ruthless bandits. With killers around every corner, the lines begin to blur between who the good and the bad are, including Jackson. As a final gunfight looms for our hero and he is asked to risk it all to save the woman he loves. I am always in for a good old fashioned western and I am very curious how Scott Eastwood acts in the genre that made his father famous. Timothy Williams wrote the score and I am always excited about his compositions.

Ah yes….this is how you start a Western score. “Bloodline” with the extraordinary vocals of Zella Day sends me back to my favorite vocal themes from Ennio Morricone Western scores. This is the kind of score where I like to include the vocal theme in the review because it works so well and it’s an integral part of the listening experience. I hope I’ll meet the instrumental part of this theme further down the score. There’s something so special to me about the pure classical Western sound and this just hits the spot.

The whistling that opens the score is more reminiscent of Francesco De Masi then Morricone and I promise this is the last reference to Western titans. The music is written by Tim Williams and the fact that it brings me nostalgia only shows how good it is. He succeeds in bringing this classical sound in the modern present without losing the appeal of the Western and the sensation of dust in my throat. He takes the thick suspense of the story and cuts it every now and then with banjo strings. He turns off the lights and controls what happens in the darkness of his music. I am involved; I see a small light guiding me. The music is determined and relentless and I feel as if I’m looking for something and I won’t stop until I find it.

I cannot remain insensitive to a cue like “She’s gone” where I feel all the pain of the main character. This is such a clever piece because it moves with our hero: the pain is choked as it gives way to the determination of doing something about it. The constant musical fight between sadness and conviction makes this cue memorable.

The transition to a tense and dark sound is natural and as the score descends down that path I suddenly recognize the composer’s improvisations: Timothy Williams used an actual shotgun to simulate percussion in some moments and the effect is brilliant. I love to hear experiments like these in a score. I also love to find a cue like “Horse shot dying in the woods” because the music is toned down and constructed in such a way that it gives the impression of a creature’s dying breath and of the spirits coming to take it.

“Diablo” is a living, breathing score that evolves, suffers, remembers, feels joy and reaches its goal. I love the way it made me feel and I love how alive and honest the music sounded. I’ve spent a rich hour with it and this is yet another reason to count Timothy Williams among the composers I get most excited about.

Cue rating: 91 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 31 / 54

Album excellence: 58%

Highlights:

Bloodline

Colorado Territory 1812

The South Trail

She’s Gone

Ambush At The River

Gallop

Carters House

Sun Was Still Not Down

Hide Her Away

The Reckoning

Not afraid

Preacher’s Theme

 

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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