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Artwork copyright (c) 2004 Home Box Office, Inc.; review copyright (c) 2005 James Southall



Evocative, colourful, atmospheric music


An unusual and highly-original tv series from HBO, Carnivāle is about a young man with the power to raise the dead and heal the sick, set in a traveling carnival in 1930s America.  It's won a number of Emmys and attracted much acclaim.  The music is by Jeff Beal, veteran of numerous tv series and the occasional movie, perhaps known best for his score for Pollock and his work on the tv show Monk.  As noted by the show's executive producer in the CD booklet, to create music for such a strange show is quite a challenge, requiring just the right blend of different styles without providing jarring mixes of different types of music, and I have to say that Beal has succeeded well in that task.

His music is a blend of American folk elements (there is much music for fiddle and ukelele) and slightly mysterious dramatic scoring for the more mystical elements of the story.  Unusually for a tv show, characters get their own well-defined themes.  There's some fine music here: "Storm's Coming" offers a distinctly Thomas Newman-like piano theme which is very effective; "We Can be Saved" is a superb dramatic piece, full of musical menace, which would grace a full-blown film score; the brief "The Silent Film" features a gorgeous, evocative fiddle solo; and there are plenty of others.

While Beal is unable to maintain the momentum over the full 60 minutes of the album, what he has done is to have created a wonderfully rich and colourful soundscape, which certainly is maintained over the full course of the album; one which envelops the listener, catches him in the mood and doesn't let go.  Whether or not you have seen the show, it is difficult not to get caught up in the wonderful atmosphere of this music, which is a credit to Beal and makes one of the better albums of television music to have appeared in a while.

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  1. Ben's Theme (1:05)
  2. Dora Mae's Funeral (2:03)
  3. Main Title (1:26)
  4. Meet Samson, Ben's Dream (1:30)
  5. Justin at Mr Chin's (Justin's Theme) (4:04)
  6. His Name was Michael (2:17)
  7. Storm's Coming (1:41)
  8. Ben Heals the Girl (1:59)
  9. Rita Sue and Jonesy (1:46)
  10. Lodz and Ben (2:05)
  11. The Carnivāle Convoy (2:07)
  12. We Can be Saved (3:13)
  13. The Mark of the Beast (3:00)
  14. The Silent Film (1:13)
  15. Fix Up Dora Mae (1:15)
  16. Management Advice (:56)
  17. You're the One (2:50)
  18. Justin Calls Iris (2:05)
  19. Management's Advice (:56)
  20. You're the One (2:50)
  21. The Russian Front (1:22)
  22. Babylon (4:06)
  23. Ben Searches the Templar Hall (3:07)
  24. Sofie Reads the Cards for Ben (3:26)
  25. Lodz and Management Plot (1:36)
  26. Lucky to Have Jonesy (Sofie's Theme) (3:20)