- Composed by James Newton Howard
- Decca / 2016 / 54m
Chronicling the presidency of Lyndon Johnson (Bryan Cranston) from the moment he assumed office through to the election he fought the following year, All the Way (the title a play on one of his campaign slogans) has a lot of ground to cover, primarily Johnson’s part in the civil rights movement and his relationship with Martin Luther King (Anthony Mackie). It’s a handsome production with an obviously high budget, stretching to having a score by an A-lister, James Newton Howard, though I have to say it’s barely noticeable within the tv movie itself. On the album it is revealed to be a classy, very serious work, the composer’s trademark dramatic style infused here with a noble Americana inevitably similar to that employed by John Williams in his similar projects (most recently Lincoln).
Howard is usually a more restrained composer than Williams however and that is certainly evident here – the patriotic brass usually muted, the winds tentative, the shimmering glow of the strings frequently gorgeous but infrequently soaring. That results in an album of music that is of undoubted pedigree but is rarely exactly gripping. Howard was obviously concerned to avoid cheapening events of great historical importance with music that might be too manipulative, but that means the dramatic impetus that might have been there had he pushed slightly harder is absent. The pace is slow, the feeling frequently dark. Having said that – it’s undoubtedly fine music, and the hymnal theme that receives its standout performance in “It Takes a Carpenter” is excellent. And when the strings do soar in “All the Way” and “New Orleans Speech” it’s a joy to behold. All the Way is a solid but unspectacular work.