Irish composer Brian Byrne makes a high profile debut with his score to Albert Nobbs. The film revolves around a woman who disguises herself as a man in order to work and save money to one day pursue her dream. The score is very elegant and very proper if that term makes sense. The execution is delicate and effective as Byrne gently paints a portrait of a very intricate character.
The music is piano heavy with light strings. We open with the song "Lay Your Head Down", which has vocals by Sinéad O'Connor. This piece returns later in the score in instrumental form and serves as the grounding piece for Albert's character. The score is very shy and very slow at coming into full form, which mimics Albert's character. It has a touch of inspiration and it always feels like there is more underneath of what is being heard. There is a slight quirkiness to the quality of the music as well as a hint of mischief. However, the emotionally binding aspect is the sweet romantic heart of the score. Be it the romance in the film or romantic notions of Albert's dream. There is a quiet romanticism that underlays the score in a very beautiful way. The score overall is a great story told with a unique voice. Short track times hinder the flow just slightly, but that's as a listening experience. There is serious character behind the notes here and that's what appealed to me most.
Albert Nobbs isn't Byrne's first score, but it's likely the first score to bring him into a larger public eye. The score is very good and the execution is perfect. Don't expect it to grab hold of you because it's not that type of score. The music gently invites you into the world and into the character. It plays out beautifully and even though there are some weaknesses to it I found the experience delightful.
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