Latest reviews of new albums:
In Country
  • Composed by James Horner
  • Intrada / 2013 / 52m

A movie that seemed to come and go barely noticed by most people, In Country (directed by Norman Jewison) saw Bruce Willis play a Vietnam war veteran struggling to come to terms with life after the conflict, with Emily Lloyd playing his niece – her father, his brother, having lost his life during the war.  Jewison has worked with numerous top film composers during his career and In Country marked his only collaboration with James Horner, firmly established in the film music A-list by the late 1980s when this film was released.  His touching music has previously only been available on a bootleg – paired with Testament – until now, with the release of Intrada’s limited edition, which presents the 39-minute album Horner assembled at the time of the film but which was never released and then adding all the other music from the score in the bonus section at the end.  1989 was an impressive year for the composer, opening with Field of Dreams, closing with Glory, and having this plus three other scores in between.

The music for In Country is calm, contemplative, respectful and generally sombre.  The absolutely gorgeous main theme – whether played by a solo trumpet to emphasise nobility or sometimes guitar or piano to lend a more “domestic” sound – is outstanding, vintage Horner at his best.  Much of the music is written for chamber orchestra (if that – “Three Generations” is literally just piano), and Horner – not always renowned for his restraint when it comes to emotional manipulation – actually treads a very deft course to avoid overplaying any sentiment, with music that’s genuinely moving.  The music takes an abrupt left turn in the lengthy “In Country”, with keyboards, a large percussion section and even a shakuhachi adding colour to an uncomfortable seven-minute flashback sequence, the main theme emerging on piano from the darkness in stark, beautiful contrast.  Finally, Horner does release all the shackles and orchestral forces are increased considerably for the moving ten-minute finale, “Fallen Friends”, the strings soaring away to make a wonderful conclusion to a touching, lovely, highly-recommended score.

Rating: **** | |

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  1. Pawel Stroinski (Reply) on Saturday 23 March, 2013 at 11:50

    Exactly, that’s why I love the score, you put it very succinctly. I am glad I bought it (and I did love the bootleg).

  2. PT (Reply) on Saturday 23 March, 2013 at 13:07

    Ha.. “vintage” indeed. It’s gorgeous, but I’ll never listen to Apollo 13 in the same way again.

  3. Mikey (Reply) on Friday 24 November, 2023 at 18:10

    The arrangement of “Fallen Friends” on this CD is not the same as in the actual movie.
    but still a GREAT score.