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Lady in the Water
by James Newton Howard

Lady in the Water DVD

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Lady in the Water by James Newton Howard

Lady in the Water
Composed by James Newton Howard
Decca Records

Rating: 7/10

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Prologue  -
MP3 ( 206 kb)

Charades -
MP3 (332 kb)

 

“The difficulty with LADY IN THE WATER is not that thematic material is lacking but that the listener only gets a few seconds glimpse here and there.  In between those most enjoyable moments is a bit too much musical mumbling.”

Sink or Swim
Review by Christopher Coleman

JAMES NEWTON HOWARD remains one of the few A-List composers who refuses to be pigeon-holed into a certain genre.  He is able to morph his sound into music that is fits a wide range of film types from: WYATT EARP, to THE PRINCE OF TIDES, to DINOSAUR, to RESTORATION, to BATMAN BEGINS.  As versatile as the composer remains, there is a distinct and consistent quality to Howard's work for Shyamalan and, at the risk of going to the well one too many times, LADY IN THE WATER continues that tradition.

As one might guess, JAMES NEWTON HOWARD has delivered a pretty solid score once again.  It has been few years since this composer has even approached a "true dud."  Still, with another chapter in his collaboration with the infamous director, expectations are just a little bit higher.  And with that said, comes the cloud for this solid-effort's silver lining.  While LADY IN THE WATER is a consistent listen from start to finish (of the actual score tracks presented), the score just never delivers anything to truly distinguish it from his other work with Shyamalan.

Once again Howard's work delivers soft, contemplative moments, pensive, dramatic tracks, and flat-out, heart-pounding suspense.  Some tracks, such as "The Party," offer all of the above.  In the "Prologue," the film's overall tone (ethereal and mysterious) and main theme are established.  "Charades" and "Cereal Boxes" feature one of JAMES NEWTON HOWARD'S most identifiable musical ear-marks when it comes to a Shyamalan film.  Another cyclical string riff with light piano accents whirl and build up the suspense throughout the length of the track.  This technique he used extensively in SIGNS and THE VILLAGE; however, this time he keeps it more subdued or at least not as prolonged.

"Subdued" turns out to be a good word for a large portion of this soundtrack.  Still, there are a handful of noteworthy moments throughout the soundtrack:  the beautiful, contemplative moments in the first minute or so of "Ripples in the Pool, the revelatory crescendo in the latter third of "The Blue World," the extended reprise of the main theme towards the middle of "The Healing," and once again a full orchestral and choral restatement of the theme in "The Great Eatlon."

Concluding the soundtrack released by Decca Records, are four tracks penned by Bob Dylan...all of which, from the perspective of the film score fan, could have easily been omitted.  Had they done so the total running time would be a measily 40 minutes.  The score itself dances the line between a rating of "7" and "8," but with the inclusion of the god-forsakened Dylan covers this release drops to a "7."

The difficulty with LADY IN THE WATER is not that thematic material is lacking but that the listener only gets a few second's glimpse here and there.  In between those moments of joy is too much musical mumbling.  The main frustration I have is that just about every track has me suffocating in relative boredom only to be rescued by moments of keen interest.  In all fairness, much the same could be said of SIGNS or THE VILLAGE, but after 5 films together, I'd like to think both Howard and Shyamalan could stir up the waters a bit more.  JAMES NEWTON HOWARD does a number of things well in this score, but he has simply done them better in many of his previous efforts.


Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Prologue 2:52 ***
2 The Party 6:41 ***
3 Charades 5:50 ***
4 Ripples in the Pool 1:50 ***
5 The Blue Word 4:26 ***
6 Giving The Kii 1:49 ***
7 Walkie Talkie 2:08 ***
8 Cereal Boxes 2:33 ****
9 Office Jimbo 3:31 ***
10 The Healing 4:04 ***
11 The Great Eatlon 4:42 ****
12 End Titles 1:44 ****
13 The Times They are A-Changin' (Dylan) 6:00 *
14 Every Grain of Sand (Dylan) 4:16 **
15 It Ain't Me Babe (Dylan) 3:46 **
16 Maggies Farm (Dylan) 3:36 *
16 Total Running Time 59:48  

 

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