With the likes of Jesus:
The Epic Mini-series, The 10th
Kingdom, and Arabian Knights, the year 2000
now Sally Hemmings, 2000 has seen an unusually
high number of quality scores composed
for television events.
Once touted as a possible successor to John Williams,
composer Joel McNeely continues to establish
himself on his own composing merits.
McNeely has gone far beyond John Williams
No better evidence for this is Sally
Hemmings: An American Scandal.
For this television mini-series about
the controversial relationship American
patriarch, Thomas Jefferson and black slave,
Sally Hemmings, McNeely delivers a score that
is easily the quality of many A-run feature
Joel McNeely's score is sometimes subtle, sometimes sweeping
in feel. He blends this with
well-crafted, classical, period music.
McNeely founds the score on a strong,
Americana main theme first heard in I was
Born Sally Hemmings (1). The theme
communicates a strong sense of patriotism and
is in line with themes by David Newman or Marc
Shaiman. McNeely chooses to reflect the
African-slave elements with simple vocal
female vocal solos.
Belgium based Prometheus Records provides over
73 minutes of music from this television film
including several classical pieces. Most
of the middle tracks tend to become a bit too
subdued to command the listener's full
attention. The CD does conclude nicely (and in
"Olympic" fashion) with McNeely's
End Credits. In the end, Sally
Hemmings: An American Scandal is an unassuming score
that further helps establish McNeely as a
serious film music composer.