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Film Music Review (Volumes 1-7)

 
   

 

 

 


FINDING HOME (2003)

Music composed, conducted, produced, programmed and arranged by Joseph Conlan.

28 Tracks (Playing Time = 79:30)

Performed by Symphony Seattle. Vocals by Lisbeth Scott. Uillean pipes and Low D Whistle performed by Eric Rigler. “Finding Home End Credit” written and performed by Holly Conlan. Music mixed by Michael J. Arnold. Edited by Robert Randles and Suzanne Marie Eller. Digitally edited and mastered by James Nelson and Michael J. Aarvold at Digital Outland. Art direction by Mark Banning.

BSX Records BSXCD 884

Rating: ***1/2

 

Lawrence D. Foldes directed this 2003 drama that takes place in Maine and features a fine cast including Genevieve Bujold, Lisa Brenner, and Louise Fletcher. The film was first seen at the Hollywood Film Festival back in 2003 and even had a showing at Cannes in 2004. It then seems to have disappeared until resurfacing again early last year with an “official” release date in late April, and again in October. It appears to still be making the rounds at film festivals where it is receiving many “Best Feature” and/or “Best Director” awards with occasional good notices for Bujold’s performance. Others have found it a bit too slow moving for their taste. The music is by Joseph Conlan who has provided many scores for telefilms in a career that began with his work on the SIMON AND SIMON television series. He most recently received a BMI TV Music Award for his score to NAVY NCIS: NAVY CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIVE SERVICE (2003) and has provided themes for numerous television programs.

For FINDING HOME, Conlan provides a score with various sampled sounds and ambient textures not unlike Isham but has some nice thematic writing supported by full orchestra and a recurring piano rendition of the main theme. The music at times has a Celtic feel and at times is similar to the over-looked score Christopher Young provided for THE SHIPPING NEWS (2001). It features fine performances by Eric Rigler on Uillean pipes who can be heard on the scores for BRAVEHEART (1995) and TITANIC (1997). But what Conlan’s score is filled with is beautiful thematic writing that will appeal to those looking for a break from the standard Hollywood blandness. Conlan’s approach in this score is similar to that used by George Fenton for light romantic comedies and dramas though FINDING HOME requires a bit more depth and emotional sound that is reminiscent at times of Shaun Davey’s WAKING NED DEVINE (1998). In “The Negotiation” and even “Awkward Arrivals,” to name but two spots, we even get a snippet of unusual instrumental combinations that would not be out of place in a Thomas Newman score. The subtle changes and additions to the orchestration are pleasant surprises along the way.

Conlan’s themes are so engaging that just when you think you have heard it all he slips in yet another surprise. It is hard to find one particular track that stands out. There are plenty of fine moments throughout this score. “My Old Room” brings in the main thematic idea but with a wonderfully nuanced turn of harmony towards the end of the track. Unusually dissonant touches give way to poignant orchestral moments throughout and since Conlan’s themes are allowed to flow freely within a given sequence the music continues to draw you in repeatedly. “Lemon Drops” takes an appropriately sour turn towards its conclusion bringing back in more dissonant sounds and ambient textures. The sound is the exception to the norm however. Of additional interest are the vocal sounds mixed in to the texture provided by Lisbeth Scott that are not like the typical wordless female vocals plaguing every score since GLADIATOR (2000).

FINDING HOME turns out to be one of the more pleasant discoveries of the past few months. It’s availability on CD might bring some awareness to the film itself, but the music is worth seeking out. It is a disc that should not be passed by the next time you find yourself browsing on-line or in your local music store. I know that as I listened to this score I sat wondering why I had not heard more from this composer who deserves a chance at providing a score for a more high profile drama. It is also an indication that one of our finer film orchestras is up in the Pacific Northwest. Here it has been excellently recorded with a gorgeous sound.

--Steven A. Kennedy, 11 January 2006

Comments regarding this review can be sent to this address: stev4uth@hotmail.com

 

 

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