Latest reviews of new albums:
Defending Jacob
  • Composed by Atli Örvarsson
  • Paramount / 42m

Based on William Landay’s popular novel, Defending Jacob is amongst the small amount of content available on Apple tv+, following a family whose son is accused of murder. While it only moves with a pace that might politely be described as glacial, it’s compelling enough and one of their better offerings so far. The score is written by tv veteran Atli Örvarsson (who specialises in various shows about Chicago-based emergency services) but the title theme is by Olafur Arnalds. Heard in extended form in the opening track, it’s a haunting piece typical of the composer – simple, textural and very effective, setting just the right tone.

Örvarsson’s score starts with an excellent pair of cues. “Secrets and Lies” and “First Day in Court” – which run over ten minutes between them – see the composer take a similar approach to the main theme, with short, glassy string phrases floating over an atmospheric base. He adds piano at times – it’s a solid, dramatic sound which – while unflashy – is quite compelling. The more synth-heavy “Leaving for the Trial” is also impressive – it’s certainly infused with a heavy air of tragedy but there’s also something quite familial about it. Things do run out of steam after that until the last couple of cues: while the atmosphere is very carefully maintained, things move along incredibly slowly. It’s smart and mature film music, but you’d have to be quite the fan of minimalist textures to get much from it as a listening experience. One somewhat jarring exception is “Ticking Clock”, a very modern (and very downbeat) piece of action/suspense. When we do get to the end, Örvarsson reprises some of the earlier thematic material in “I Never Asked You”, a powerful piece, and while “It’s Over” doesn’t offer any jubilant conclusion, it does nicely round things off. Defending Jacob is certainly an effective score full of class, but it’s relentlessly miserable (as the narrative requires) which means the album is not likely to be one to pull out all that often.

Rating: *** | |

Tags: , ,

  1. It‘s quiet in here! Why not leave a response?