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Star Trek: Picard
  • Composed by Jeff Russo
  • Lakeshore Records / 67m

I don’t think anybody really believed that Patrick Stewart would start playing Jean-Luc Picard again, least of all in a new tv series, but after all the next generations we’re back with the same generation again as we pick up with the former captain many years after Star Trek Nemesis. He has come to terms with his retirement – until of course it’s time to come out of it and have a new adventure. (But where’s Stuart Baird?)

I thought the modern Star Trek tv shows reached their pinnacle when Deep Space Nine went with a serialised storyline that lasted for several years (while Rick Berman wasn’t looking) – of course nearly all tv shows are like that now and I’m enjoying watching this one rather slowly unfold (as I did the first season of Discovery, although it rather lost its way in the second). While I was pleased when Jeff Russo was announced as the composer for the earlier show, I was less pleased when I heard what he actually delivered which was barely less bland than most of the music that accompanied the Berman era; and so it was with some trepidation that I started listening to his latest effort.

Jeff Russo

The album opens with the opening title theme, and I’m pleased to report it’s a massive step up from Star Trek: Discovery‘s. Elegant and noble, it’s a nice way to musically represent the beloved character (though it does – entirely coincidentally, I’m sure – threaten at one point to turn into the theme from The Pacific by Hans Zimmer and friends). At the end there’s just a hint of Jerry Goldsmith’s theme from Star Trek: The Motion Picture (played on a Ressikan flute no less), a watered-down version of which was of course used as the tv theme for The Next Generation throughout its run. It’s a good, strong theme which I like a great deal.

Rather oddly, the end title comes next on the album. It’s actually a distinct piece in itself rather than just a shorter version of the opening theme (which is usually the case) – a more energetic and perhaps dynamic piece though without the elegance, it is another winner and for three or four minutes the album promises a great deal. To be honest it doesn’t really go on to deliver on that promise – there’s nothing much wrong with the music in context and it is entirely inoffensive on the album but it does suffer from Discovery‘s problem of reasonable chunks not really being distinctive or compelling enough to truly satisfy.

There are some exceptions to this – early on, there’s an emotional take on the main theme in “The Painting”, the unexpected but hugely welcome reprise of Fred Steiner’s classic Romulan theme from the original series episode Balance of Terror which is integrated throughout “Twins”. Both the Alexander Courage and Jerry Goldsmith themes are heard in “Picard Requests Help” (and the latter crops up a few more times, too).

There’s quite a lengthy portion in the middle of the album when very little happens but a bit of life comes back into it in the action piece “Mystery Ship” – it’s not exactly a barnstormer but it is enough to rouse the listener from the slumber. At the other end of the excitement spectrum is “Picard Leaves Elnor”, but it’s a colourful and nicely exotic piece which is also impressive. Immediately afterwards comes the delightful “Soji and Narek Waltz”, the album’s standout track apart from the title tracks, a beautifully fluid piece which glistens and glows.

Later there’s just a hint of Goldsmith’s Voyager theme in “Leaving With Maddox”, an otherwise-unremarkable track (but what a theme that was – incredible). At the end of the album is a pair of tracks from the short Children of Mars, which served as a lead-in to this series and the second of them interestingly features a really nice piano arrangement of the Picard main theme.

This album contains music from the first half of the first season. I’m not really sure there is enough interesting material to justify a whole album for that and would have preferred the stronger album that could surely have come from the whole season instead. But still – I do like the main theme and there’s a handful of other tracks which are interesting enough to want to hear again. From his pre-Star Trek work I heard more than enough from Jeff Russo to know how good he can be so I’m not really sure what’s holding him back on these things, but for Picard he’s let loose just enough to make it worth checking out.

Rating: *** | |

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  1. Charles (Reply) on Saturday 22 February, 2020 at 16:28

    Are there any other writers credited on the soundtrack? Russo has become notorious for being almost Zimmerian with the amount of staff writers he employs. It would be interesting to know who wrote what.

  2. mastadge (Reply) on Monday 24 February, 2020 at 17:10

    Great and fair review. “Twins” was where I sat up and took notice on my first listen. And there’s also a very brief hint of the Voyager them at the end of “Mystery Ship.” I hope Russo continues to have opportunities to use classic themes when appropriate. One obvious one would be Goldsmith’s First Contact theme, which should be pertinent to a show about Picard and the Borg. One thing, though: Russo used a piccolo in the theme since he didn’t have a working Ressikan flute.