Lady in the Water’s Score by James Newton Howard has been getting incredible reviews all over the place. I’ll be adding mine to the numbers in the next few days or so, but just for now, here’s a roundup of reviews from around the net.
Filmtracks: It may not draw much attention to itself at the outset,but by the end of your first listen to Lady in the Water, you’ll be hooked. This is a relatively rare occurrence in an age in which most scores of this complexity require two or three listening experiences to lure you in. Not here. Howard’s score has everything you’ve ever wanted to hear from an intelligent fantasy score and has, in the process of bring the Blue World to life, become the best score of 2006 through the year’s first half. There are several reasons why Lady in the Water is so enticing, and one of them is a direct reflection of the difference between the horror-influenced films of Shyamalan’s past and the romantic fable at the heart of this project. Howard’s score here is lush and harmonic in a dominant minor key, thematically rich and compelling for nearly every minute of its length. It’s the first Shyamalan score that is truly hopeful at its core while still built upon the deeply textured and mysterious foundation that defines these Howard works.
Amazon.com: For his fifth collaboration – and following the Oscar-nominated score for THE VILLAGE – with director M. Night Shyamalan, James Newton Howard has delivered rather good work. Considering the supernatural tone of the movie, some of the composer touches are predictable (a glockenspiel offering eerie punctuations, a huge choir suggestively going “oooh” and “aaah”), but he also demonstrates a sure sense of melody. Listen, for instance, to the various threads making up “Prologue.” Despite the size of the orchestra at his disposal, Newton Howard always opts for subtle touches rather than wham-bam scary-movie effects. The most stereotypically actiony cue is “The Great Eatlon,” but it’s done as well as can be: it remains ominously restrained for quite a while, until the choir comes in to deliver an elegiac passage and the track switches to grandiose pomp. Tacked at the end of the CD are four Bob Dylan covers, including a gothic take on “The Times They Are A-Changin’” by A Whisper in the Noise, and Silvertide’s rocking “It Ain’t Me Babe” and “Maggie’s Farm.”
SoundtrackNet: Although there is a bit of music missing from the score, it doesn’t feel too short. By sequencing the album out of film order, it plays nicely as a listening experience. If there was any major complaint about it, it might seem that there is some repetition in some of the material – but it’s all so enjoyable that you really wouldn’t notice. Throughout all 42-minutes of score, you can definitely feel the quality and care that Howard has put into the work. He did what all composers strive to do: not just support the film, but actually elevate it. … Howard’s score is … a must-have for any film music fan.
The Capitol Times: James Newton Howard’s collaborations with Shyamalan go back to THE SIXTH SENSE, and he was Oscar-nominated for 2004’s THE VILLAGE. Howard’s compositions work largely because they avoid the usual bangs and zings of scary films for something more subdued and evocative. LADY IN THE WATER … seems to be more of a fantasy than a thriller, and that’s reflected in the music,which has a pervasive feeling of mystery rather than fear.
The opening “Prologue”eloquently weaves several themes together, beginning from almost total silence, to create a grand beginning, and the rest of the instrumental music is similarly subdued. It’s only during the finale, “The Great Eatlon,” that the soundtrack soars into sweeping, choir-driven grandeur that seems a little out of step with the rest of the album.
From The Capitol Times (Madison, WI)