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Ain't Them Bodies Saints by Daniel Hart

Ain't Them Bodies Saints

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Ain't Them Bodies Saints (Soundtrack) by Daniel Hart
Ain't Them Bodies Saints (Soundtrack) by Daniel Hart










Ain't Them Bodies Saints (Soundtrack) by Daniel Hart

Ain't Them Bodies Saints
Composed by Daniel Hart
Lakeshore Records (2013)

Rating: 4/10

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ďAin't Them Bodies Saints, truth be told, is not a music-friendly film. With gritty realism the intent throughout, CARNAHAN and STREITENFELD were content to leave much of the film unscored,...Thus, the 35-minute album presented here likely represents the extent of STREITENFELDís minimal contribution Ė minimal in both quantity and approach.Ē

A Dreary Countryside Weíve Heard Before
Review by Thomas Midena


AINíT THEM BODIES SAINTS is a romantic drama set in the picturesque hills of Texas and featuring the small-scale story of an outlaw who escapes from prison to reunite with his wife. This setting and plot is simple and familiar, leaving the tough job of creating a unique and engaging tone to up-and-coming composer DANIEL HART.

Somber independent American dramas have come to sound alike in the past few years. The long hollow tones and eerie, wailing strings are joyless and persistent. In this way AINíT THEM BODIES SAINTS is a predictable score. Sustained drones are an easy way to fill the sonic space with (seemingly meaningful) sound, and it wasnít long before they became uncomfortable in my ears.

The dream-like nature of the score as a whole wears thin quickly, and there is little substance to latch on to. This is a common drawback of the ambient, minimalist style soundtrack, but sometimes there is something unique or interesting enough to hold your hand and pull you through. An entry point, so to speak. So what makes AINíT THEM BODIES SAINTS stand out? Possibly itís use of human body percussion. For the most part DANIEL HART forsakes drum beats for the more natural sounds of clapping hands and slapping thighs. I am, in general, an emphatic fan of clapping sounds in music. Itís often rather rousing, a fine way to make the music feel alive, and in some strange way - social. It can engage the listener in the momentum. To some extent it is similarly effectual in AINíT THEM BODIES SAINTS, however the rest of the score is so desolate that itís hard to get too excited. This clapping quirk is not unique enough to make AINíT THEM BODIES SAINTS musically interesting for me.

In addition to human body percussion AINíT THEM BODIES SAINTS sticks to a natural tone in most tracks. Plucked strings twang and acoustic guitars groan. This assists in the portrayal of the setting: a small American country town. Beyond that though, communication is not one of AINíT THEM BODIES SAINTSí strong points. The music doesnít contain many hints at context, themes or messages apart from the obvious and overstated gloom.

Country style rings clearest in ďFixer UpperĒ (4). There is life in the twanging banjo, but the recurrence of a descending lament of strings is repetitious and ultimately leads nowhere. This cue and the soundtrack more broadly remain on the same melancholy level with no significant changes in texture from beginning to end. In ďThe Last ShootoutĒ (10) the clapping rhythm becomes the main article, now accompanied by an archaic progression of offbeat percussion and a sustained dreamlike note which hardly changes for 4 minutes. Though this is the most energetic point in the soundtrack, it still feels too subdued and predictable to arouse any passion.

The album ends with 8 songs created by various artists and featuring a cowboyís stride worth of country style. These are of varying quality, but all are arguably more appetizing than the main score. If youíre interested in these songs that certainly makes the album as a whole a more logical investment, but they arenít used in the film and they donít factor into my review.

This score was created to provide a simple bleak tone for the film it is attached to. On itís own, the soundtrack is a little too ethereal, stagnant and empty. A lack of musical momentum, through rhythm or melody, meant I could never truly engage with the material. AINíT THEM BODIES SAINTS operates on the same plane of anxious emotion from beginning to end, but since I couldnít connect with the music in any personal way that anxiety did not become relevant. Itís like watching someone else be anxious, which is simply an uncomfortable experience. The regular use of body percussion struggles to stand as the main musical drive. How unique must a soundtrack be to be enjoyed on its own? A stretch more unique than this score, I would argue.

If you enjoy minimalistic dark scores with eerie, depressing atmospheres, maybe AINíT THEM BODIES SAINTS is one for you. However for the rest of us the complete lack of variety and melodic material makes this a fairly ordinary listening experience.

Rating: 4/10


Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Ain't Them Bodies Saints Theme 2:11  **
2 Ruth and Sylvie 2:59  ***
3 Freddy's Dead/ Sylvie's Born 3:15  ****
4 Fixer Upper 2:34  ***
5 Bob Escapes 2:56  ***
6 Ruth Tries to Write 2:52  **
7 Skerritt Reads the Letter 2:54  ***
8 Do You Remember That Day? 2:07  **
9 Sweet Talk 2:25  ***
10 The Last Shootout 4:09  **
11 Inside the Farmhouse 2:19  *
12 The Lights by Katherine Carradine 3:28 n/a
13 Blue Jay by Curtis Heath 1:16 n/a
14 Ain't Long Enough by Andrew Tinker 3:23 n/a
15 Here We are by Greg Schroeder w/ Mara Lee Miller 2:34 n/a
16 He Never Told Me by Annell Brodeur 2:57 n/a
17 Been Waiting by Curtis Heath and John Graney 2:13 n/a
18 Appalachian Abduction by Curtis Heath 2:10 n/a
19 Siren Call by Aaron Kyle 5:16 n/a
  Total Running Time (approx) 54 minutes  


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