TV

Soundtrack review: Marvel’s Jessica Jones (Sean Callery – 2016)

Marvel’s Jessica Jones, or simply “Jessica Jones”, is an American web television series created for Netflix by Melissa Rosenberg, based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. It is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), sharing continuity with the films of the franchise, and is the second in a series of shows that will lead up to a Defenders crossover miniseries. Krysten Ritter stars as Jessica Jones, a former superhero who opens her own detective agency. Following a tragic end to her brief superhero career, Jessica Jones tries to rebuild her life as a private investigator, dealing with cases involving people with remarkable abilities in New York City. I loved the show and I can’t wait to see more. Sean Callery wrote the score and I’m happy to finally get an official release of his music for a TV show.

I just couldn’t wait to hear that main theme over and over again. The jazzy wonder that makes me think right away at the watercolor main titles of the TV show is simply brilliant and addictive. It mirrors the character with the dreamy and absent start followed by a raw and aggressive second half when she springs into action. The way Jessica is portrayed in the show reminds me of the hard boiled detectives from the 40s and 50 noir movies. Sean Callery took this ambiance and put into jazzy and moody cues that give the score a special identity. There’s the trumpet wailing, the electric guitar, the soft percussion all veiled under a mysterious mist that resembles the circles of smoke rising from the cigarettes smoked in dark bars.

The score is structured by scenes instead of focusing on themes for various characters. I am floored by the sudden change of mood at the end of “Fight at Luke’s bar”; an action cue stops midway and turns into an electric ambient piece that just melts my heart. Moments like these make the score even more enjoyable for me. I find ambient music again in “Sleepover at Luke’s” and I love how these moments are used to show us Jessica’s vulnerability in her most intimate moments.

I listen to a cue like “Rescuing Hope from the hotel bed” and I am drawn into a parallel time and universe full of ghosts and pain and I can’t walk away. Wow, count this as one of the most beautiful cues I’ve heard in 2016. This, “Jessica on the move” and “Jessica confesses to Luke” are my favorite pieces from this album. The music is all about Jessica and her character development. I am missing Killgrave’s presence in the music but I can’t complain when I am getting such an intense exploration of her character.

“Jessica Jones” is a brilliant score. The atmosphere rarely changes. There are subtle variations but overall this score is a slow jazz affair, deep and reflective. I knew Sean Callery could write gripping suspense and action but this kind of seductive darkness is something else. The music drips it from every cue.  The different nuances, the ambient passages and the sudden burst of grungy action make this one of the best neo noir compositions I’ve heard in a long time. Just try “Hospital cat and mouse”. Whether you are fans of the show or not, get this one!

Cue rating: 93 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 37 / 52

Album excellence: 63%

Highlights:

Jessica Jones Main Title

Then There’s the Matter of You

Fight at Luke’s Bar

Rescuing Hope from the Hotel Bed

Sleepover at Luke’s

Jessica on the Move

Cockroach

Luke’s Revenge on the Bus Driver

Elevator Massacre

Hospital Cat and Mouse

Kilgrave Escapes His Glass Prison

Tailing Malcolm

Jessica Confesses to Luke

Final Justice for the Purple Man

Maybe It’s Enough the World Thinks I’m a Hero

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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