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Hatfields & McCoys by John Debney & Tony Morales (Review)

posted Jun 18, 2012, 10:37 PM by Kaya Savas

There is nothing better than a truly great western score. Music that not only embraces the setting but embraces the mythology, archetypes, characters and early human conditions represented in that genre. You can make anything a western, there is no limit as to what story you can tell. A western does not have to take place in the west and it's never defined by its setting, and I've run into a few stubborn folk who believe otherwise. However here we have a pure western in the tradition of the genre's origin. The musical history of this genre is massive and John Debney and Tony Morales have done a stunning job at their entry in it.

This album has packed as much music as the CD format can allow. With the soundtrack nearing 80-minutes of music we get a very decent representation of the duo's score for this miniseries. This is a western score with its own identity. It doesn't sound like Ennio Morricone nor does it sound like Nick Cave & Warren Ellis. It manages to craft a distinct sound using traditional western instrumentation. There are a lot of intricate pieces in this score, but they always build in some satisfying fashion. Lisbeth Scott lends her angelic voice to the soundscape and it gives it a distinct flavor. The score keeps you in that dusty state of mind throughout the whole experience. If it has any weakness it's that all the 1-minute track times make for a bit of a choppy experience. I do stress the "bit" as the strength of the tracks alone are immense. The score holds its own weight and carries it gracefully. This is an absolutely superb western score that will remain with you long after you hear it. 

This is a masterful western score filled to the brim with an intoxicating atmosphere created by the talented Debney and Morales. The songs sprinkled throughout including "Vengeance Train" and "The Long Road Down" are so damn perfect that it'll give you chills. Every western fan must listen to this score. It's a cut above the rest in a genre that has had a difficult time finding its place in modern times. Debney and Morales execute this perfectly making it their own score that stands very strongly as its own entity and not referencing the past.