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  • true_bloodComposed by Nathan Barr
  • Varese Sarabande 302 066 984 2 / 2009 / 44:41

Alan Ball’s True Blood is one of my favourite things on CD at the moment.  With compelling characters, lots and lots of plot surprises (none of which feels forced or unnatural, unlike most tv) – and lots and lots of graphic sex, violence and gore – how could you go wrong!?  Music for the series is by Nathan Barr – in all senses – since he doesn’t just compose it, he also performs it all (on cello, piano, acoustic guitar and bowed electric guitar, with some synths).  The show is set in the deep south and there is a hint of that in the music – the music’s got soul – but generally it’s just very fine dramatic underscore.  If recent years have proven anything, it’s that anyone with a good enough computer and team of orchestrators can write film scores for a 100-piece orchestra and 50-piece choir – not necessarily good film scores, but film scores all the same.  It’s much harder to do it for a very small ensemble like this – if you don’t have the chops for it, you’ll be ruthlessly exposed.

There is nothing straightforward about True Blood the show, so there isn’t about the score either.  The love theme is tinged with an incredible uncertainty; the more chilling vampire music has a heart beating underneath it; the tumultuous relationship between Tara (the strongest female character on tv?) and her mother gets an incredibly beautiful theme.  The album actually opens with a gorgeous song by Barr, sung by Lisbeth Scott, “Take Me Home” – heartmeltingly beautiful, and entirely in keeping with the score.  There’s a wonderful track called “Grieve to Grave to Groove” which does everything its name implies – wonderful scoring.  Everything sounds so organic, so natural – this is seriously impressive scoring.  Like most tv music, maybe it wouldn’t appeal so much to a non-viewer (I don’t know, since I’m a viewer) – for me, it’s so evocative, so luxuriously enveloping, I haven’t heard much more impressive music in a film this year, let alone on television.  Roll on the second season’s album!  ****

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