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

posted Aug 24, 2013, 5:26 PM by Kaya Savas

I had never heard of Daniel Hart before Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, but I’m sure this won’t be the last time I’ll hear of him. This southern tale of doomed lovers trying to reunite after a tragic separation is a beautiful meditation on love and tragedy. The music like the film is poetic, intoxicating and woefully beautfiul. Hart has a masterful hold on the emotional flow of the score that absoultely blew me away. This score is a mini masterpiece that stays with you long after its done.

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints is a truly moving score. It starts off very warm almost with a heartfelt glow. There’s the slightest flutter of love moving underneath the music. The piece titled “Ruth And Sylvie” is a stunning meditation on the warmth of family. The clapping that acts as the percussion is not only unique but it gives a figurative and literal human touch that is very different than say a vocal. The sense of touch is translated into the sense of hearing, and I think that’s very amazing. As the story unfolds we move further and further away from that warmth. The warmth is always there but it stays quite low as our characters try desperately to reunite but can’t. This score feels alive in a very strange way. There is something alive in it that speaks to the listener. When that loving warmth is gone you can feel the music try to reach back to it. “Ruth Tries To Write” almost feels like a flickering candle desperately trying to stay lit; a piece of fluttering life trying to stay alive. The rest of the score feels like an echo of the warmth we felt in the beginning as a tragic foreboding tone sets in. The clapping percussion turns into tension and suddenly feels restless instead of comforting. We finish on an extinguishing flame as the music fades away.

The score is a beautiful masterpiece that reflects on life and love. The beauty of it comes through it’s tragic decent. In a brilliant album presentation all the songs (expertly selected) come at the end instead of sprinkled throughout. That always bothered me because I felt that hearing a song with vocals pop up between tracks of score always took me out of it. Here the songs act as a "part 2" to the score by being at the end of the album. This score is truly special, and is from a composer who early in his career has got it figured out. There is no doubt that Daniel Hart is a master of emotional flow. His score here moves like water and feels so very natural as it flows from one track to the next. I hate to compare, but to give you an idea think of a Nick Cave & Warren Ellis score to a Terrence Malick film. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints is a wonderfully original and emotionally substantial piece of work. It's a brilliant effort and one of the best scores of the year.