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THE LAST SIN EATER
Beautiful, uplifting music from McKenzie
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2007 Word Entertainment LLC; review copyright (c) 2007 James Southall
A Christian spiritual film about a girl who finds her redemption, The Last Sin Eater is set in the USA in the mid-19th century. The film didn't do much business on its release, and didn't attract the best reviews either, but is the sort of thing which may have a lasting appeal to certain people because of its nature. Musically, it called for a score which could evoke the sense of childlike wonder of the central character, but at the same time accentuate the more adult themes of the film, and director Michael Landon turned to the talented Mark McKenzie for the job.
He picked a safe pair of hands in McKenzie, since every one of the composer's scores so far has been impressive. He almost always writes uplifting, charming music and so it's no surprise to find that that's what he has done again with The Last Sin Eater. The score's opening is a little more of a surprise, with pan pipes and a solo vocal whose Celtic origin seems far more Irish than Welsh. The second cue includes an excellent theme heard in piano (performed by McKenzie himself) and later violin solo versions.
"Dead Man's Mountain" introduces what is one of McKenzie's finest themes so far - in general terms, there seems to be a little Georges Delerue there and a little John Barry as well - and those are not bad influences to have - but that's a mood thing rather than anything direct - and McKenzie has now amassed enough of a body of work that actually the piece sounds like Mark McKenzie more than anyone else. It really is a stunner, somehow both uplifting and yet full of tragedy, and it's certainly one of the composer's most impressive pieces. "It Doesn't Hurt Any More!" is another magical piece, inspiringly beautiful.
There's a lovely, folksy feel to some of the cues, with some beautiful fiddle solos being a highlight. Perhaps the finest sections, though, comes near the end when the composer pulls out all the stops to write music which soars so high it takes the listener all the way with it - "You're Just a Man Whom God Loves" is of particular note in this regard. McKenzie's music is always so charming and graceful - and always of such high quality. This is yet another very fine score from the composer - beautiful, moving, at times even spiritual - it's great to see him scoring films more regularly these days, and long may it continue. Fans of Delerue and latter-day Barry would surely love it - and fans of McKenzie should run out and buy it without hesitation.