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The Lincoln Lawyer
  • Composed by Cliff Martinez
  • Lakeshore Records / 2011 / 41:02

The Lincoln Lawyer is the second of Michael Connelly’s crime novels to be adapted for the big screen (after Clint Eastwood’s Blood Work).  I’m a little surprised nobody’s turned any of his excellent Harry Bosch detective stories into a film yet – I’m sure somebody will.  Another slight surprise came when youngster Cliff Martinez (only 57 years old) was announced as composer.  A further surprise when the film came out and Martinez was still the composer, since at some point it appeared he had been replaced by John Frizzell.  Anyway, it is good news that he was hired and not fired – this is a fine album.  Contemporary, vibrant, energetic, at times hypnotic – in film music terms, a kind of hybrid of John Powell at his hippest and Mark Isham in Crash mode – this is the kind of score which should certainly appeal to younger listeners craving an instant fix but which has perfectly enough depth to satisfy the discerning older gentleman too.

On the face of it, it’s the sort of music I don’t usually rate highly: it’s largely synthetic, guitars dominating the live instruments that are here, without much in the way of melody, “ambient” being the stock-film-music-adjective most likely to be used.  But Martinez uses layer upon layer of sounds, constructing a truly compelling soundscape which at once combines a crisp, modern edge with a sense of urgent dramatic progression.  The album positively breezes by, perfectly assembled.  The booklet includes an exquisitely witty note by the composer – I won’t repeat it here, since even if you don’t like the music, it’s worth paying $15 just to read those two paragraphs.  This is very much not the type of score usually finding itself the recipient of high praise at this website; but that’s because this type of score is very rarely done as well as this one.  Impressive.  ****

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