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Impressions Of America by Patrick Doyle (Review)

posted Apr 30, 2013, 6:22 PM by Koray Savas

Patrick Doyle has been writing for film for a long time, but has just recently exploded back onto the Hollywood map with recent scores such as Thor, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, and Brave. Born in Scotland, Doyle's latest is a symphonic piece consisting of fifteen different cues that make up his impressions of American life and culture.

As the album cover suggests, the music is brimming with mood and setting. The work evokes a broad range of emotions and colors that tackle a wide variety of American traditions. It is slow to start, and the music initially fails to find a structured framework, but as it progresses Doyle finds a steady ebb and flow that allows the listener to be drawn into this world. "Washington DC," "Pumpkin Pie," and "Christmas In New York" feel almost too playful and lighthearted for their own good and meander without direction. "Transcontinental Railroad" follows, and it starts to show some promise as melodic ideas begin to form. It echoes Thomas Newman quite strongly, but it also carries on much too long and its minimalistic qualities become too repetitive. "The Great Depression" and "Mount Rushmore" is where the album starts to take shape. The tone of the music becomes much smoother and relaxing and things take off with the wonderful "Prairie Sunrise." "Decaying City," "Yosemite," and particularly "Death Valley" and "Rushing Rapids" is where the heart of Doyle's work lies. There is a great nuance in the writing that was absent earlier, and it takes the emotional resonances of the 'impressions' to a whole other level. "Rushing Rapids" is a powerful cue of rising strings that exude yearning hope and danger; the highlight of the album. Then things begin to boil down with "The Great Plains," which is a great Americana piece that recalls Copland and western film scores like The Big Country. "Old Glory" and "Thanksgiving" close out our tour with reflective melancholy and ambition.

Impressions Of America has a rocky start, but Patrick Doyle finds his footing quickly and guides us through his view of America. He tackles everything from holidays and tradition to vast landscapes. While it seems unfocused at first, it ultimately nestles into a beautiful ode to ideals past and present.