Road to Perdition (Soundtrack) by Thomas Newman



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Road to Perdition (Soundtrack) by Thomas Newman

"Road to Perfection"
Review by
Steve Townsley


Road to Perdition by Thomas Newman

Road to Perdition

Return to Paradise (Soundtrack) by Mark Mancina

Category  |   Score

Originality 7
Music Selection 7
Composition 8
CD Length 9
Track Order 6
Performance 9
Final Score 8/10


Real Audio Clips



Thomas Newman
Thomas Newman


Quick Quotes

Where the soundtrack is flawed is that it has too many different other genres as well.  It goes very Hollywood with light, perky score for scenes between the father and son.  Newman throws in hints of Irish music as well as some period overtones, which work okay, but never seem truly integrated into the overall work. " ****

Glenn McClanan- SoundtrackNet Reviews
Road to Perdition




Composed and Conducted by Thomas Newman
Album Produced by Thomas Newman, Bill Bernstein
Released by Decca Records - June 25, 2002

Though a striking gangster era drama, Road To Perdition may not rival the Godfather in epic quality, though it shares the same traditional symbolism of the Oedipus/Daedalus themes, and explores it with fascinating performances and beautiful cinematography. Following up his Oscar™ong directorial debut, American Beauty, director Sam Mendes retained his collaboration with composer Thomas Newman.

I will be the first to admit a leniency—perhaps even a preference—when it comes to Thomas Newman. I can appreciate minimalistic scores (particularly when considering the subject matter)--but on the whole, they don’t spend a lot of time in my player. Except when it comes to Thomas Newman--I enjoy the heck out of his work. I “get” it. Or at least I like to think I do. Thomas Newman, like Elliot Goldenthal, Michael Danna, or Phillip Glass, is one of those composers that if you start to enjoy, you feel a little smarter for liking them. And while I can’t say I wholly-and-unconditionally embrace any of his contemporaries in that regard, at least I can smile while everyone else squirms listening to Pay it Forward.

Newman’s playfully creepy score in American Beauty was a memorable addition to the film—one cannot help but conjure up an image of strategically placed rose petals when you hear Newman’s marimba. Road To Perdition doesn’t quite have the same memorable motifs that are easily associated with the images in the film as with Beauty, however. Perdition is a mood symphony, awash in bleak melancholy and beautifully sparse melodies. The overall impact is rather chilling, but when processed as whole, can be seen as a sad-but-warm underscore.

Soon or later, every composer employs that Celtic sound, and in track one, Thomas Newman joins that prestigious list of composers. Not a particularly rousing number, but it does convey the ethnic backgrounds of the main characters.

Track 6, “Murder in Four Parts”, is a dark and dissonant rhapsody that explores the catalystic horrors of the film without forgiveness. It is followed immediately by the piece which I feel captures the pensive nature of the film’s journey, “Road to Chicago” (track 8), a piano-with-symphony composition that is trapped in an emotional void that is not anger nor sadness but tortured survival. The theme is reprised briefly in track 19, “Virgin Mary” and track 22 “Cathedral” (with choir), as well.

Track 10: The return of the infamous “out of tune” guitar! (also heard playing very quietly in track 4.) Everyone hated it in American Beauty—but it was perfect. You can hear that there’s a tune playing, though it’s just “off”...which suggests something is psychologically wrong—“off”—with the image (or the character) on the screen. In Perdition, the guitar is back to underscore Jude Law’s character, who is, most assuredly, psychologically “wrong”. Don’t misread me, here—there’s nothing very appealing about the Maguire character—but the fact that Newman uses a detuned instrument to make a virtually subliminal note of something that isn’t initially evident is brilliant.

Track 13, “The Farm” is the heart of the score, and the softest, most sentimental moment in the music, neither victorious nor defeated, but with hope--a restrained pastoral piano in classic mellow Thomas Newman fashion. This theme is later to be symphonically explored in track 26, “The Road to Perdition.” Also noteworthy, a slightly humorous and insolent jaunt follows in track 14, “Dirty Money.”

The source music here--not individually unpleasant, but sometimes interruptive—primarily serve to anchor the score in the 1930’s, as with many cases of source music. Mission accomplished. Ending the album is an enigmatic-though-appropriate piano duet, performed on-screen by actors Tom Hanks and Paul Newman. Introduced by a brief smattering of applause, the duet on these black and white keys as played by the two characters who are emotionally bound to each other as a son to a father, is representative once again of the film’s themes and symbolism, and is a beautiful closing to this album.

Not The Godfather or The Untouchables, oozing with ethnicity, but a tense atmospheric score, this is a smart addition to the aficionado’s library.

Track Listing and Ratings


Title Time


1 Rock Island, 1931 Track 2 - Across the Stars 3:22  ***
2 Wake 1:55  ***
3 Just the Feller 2:44  **
4 Mr. Rance Track 2 - Across the Stars 1:38  ***
5 Bit Borrowers 2:25  **
6 Murder In Four Parts 7:54  ****
7 Road to Chicago Track 2 - Across the Stars 3:06  ****
8 Reading Room 1:25  ***
9 Someday Sweetheart – The Charleston Chasers 3:05  **
10 Meet Maguire 1:44  ****
11 Blood Dog 1:06  **
12 LFinn McGovern 2:11  **
13 The Farm 2:09  ****
14 Dirty Money 3:10  ****
15 Rain Hammers 2:41  ***
16 A Blind Eye 2:27  **
17 Nothing to Trade 2:25  **
18 Queer Notions – Fletcher Henderson and his Orchestra 2:46  **
19 Virgin Mary 1:34  ****
20 Shoot the Dead 2:25  **
21 Grave Drive 1:20  ***
22 Cathedral 2:40  ***
23 There’ll Be Some Changes Made – Chicago Rhythm Kings 2:59  ****
24 Ghosts 3:40  ***
25 Lexington Hotel, Room 1432 1:45  **
26 Road to Perdition 3:55  ****
27 Perdition Piano Duet – Performed by Tom Hanks and Paul Newman 1:39  ****

Total Running Time



*The Experience-O-Meter displays the track to track listening experience of this soundtrack based on the 5-Star rating given to each track.  It provides a visual depiction of the ebbs and flows of the CD's presentation of the soundtrack.


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