RUNAWAY JURY
Music composed and conducted by Christopher Young 
Label: Varèse Sarabande
Catalog:
302 066 524 2
Year: 2003
Tracks:

01. Runaway Jury (5'35)
02. Dumb Witness (1'31)
03. Cheaper by the Dozen (3'05)
04. The Game's Afoot (1'22)
05. Not Lady Liberty (1'54)
06. Shark Tactics (4'26)
07. The Divine Komeda (1'57)
08. Jury for Sale (2'49)
09. Easter's Con (1'00)
10. Voir Dire (6'04)
11. Habeas Corpus (2'41)
12. Rankin Fitch (3'42)
13. Spilt Whiskey (2'07)
14. The Devil's Not Such a Bad Guy After All (2'01)
15. Erase Her from my Heart (4'16)
16. Fayeth in Fate no More (8'31)
17. Who Hurt You? (3'05)
18. Unconditional Love (2'51)

Total Time: 59:37
Rating:


Reviewed by
Jorge Saldanha

 
I would like to start this review making some sincere statements: I really like Chris Young's work, having heard and enjoyed his scores along the years, beginning with the remarkable 1987's Hellraiser. He is definitively one of my favorite contemporary composers, but I can't easily recognize his music at a first listening. In my opinion, Young still does not possess a distinguished musical voice as an author, something that his contemporary colleagues James Newton Howard and Elliot Goldenthal achieved a long time ago. This said I don't think it is a problem after all, in view of the high quality of his output.

This Runaway Jury, for instance, does not have a clear Young's trademark. Sometimes it sounds like a Newton Howard's work, sometimes even like a Thomas Newman score. However, like all Christopher Young's works it serves perfectly well to the movie and it is enjoyable as a soundtrack album. The composer is not a stranger to the thriller and legal drama genres, having delivered solid scores for films like Judicial Consent (1994) and Murder In The First (1995). This time Young's music underscores a film based on a John Grisham novel about lawyers in New Orleans, who must face corruption, powerful corporations and moral dilemmas. Underneath the plot, carried by an outstanding cast (Dustin Hoffman, Gene Hackman, Rachel Weisz and John Cusack), the music succeeds on establishing the film's setting, atmosphere and tension. Let us give a quick look at the album's highlights.

Young wrote a main motif based on piano and strings, and two bluesy/jazzy secondary motifs that represent the film southern location, as well the courtroom activities. All of them are enriched sometimes by Teresa James' vocal. “Runaway Jury” opens the CD and introduces the score main theme. Strings and guitar soon join the piano and Teresa James' voice. It is a somber, melancholic cue that ends with the return of the voice/piano/strings trio. In “Dumb Witness” the vocal is back, this time introducing a secondary motif performed by electric piano, percussion and a jazzy trumpet. Here, I can hear echoes from the outstandig Quincy Jones' score for the classic Sidney Lumet's In The Heat of The Night (1967). “Cheaper by the Dozen” starts with electronics and a funky rhythm; in its second half the cue gains suspense tones. In the short “The Game's Afoot” the electric guitar is heard for the first time with the orchestra's string section.

“Not Lady Liberty” features an interesting ascendant strings work, a solo trumpet and excerpts from the main motif. “Shark Tactics” is an attractive suspense track driven by orchestra and electronics, which develops into action material with some sharp interventions of strings and brass. “The Divine Komeda” brings back the jazzy motif, this time featuring electric guitar solo and funky drums. “Jury for Sale” and “Easter's Con” displays some percussion in an eastern/Thomas Newman's style. “Voir Dire” features the orchestra but is based on synthesizers and electronic percussion, alternating suspense and action moments. “Habeas Corpus” blends a secondary courtroom motif with another rendition of the main theme. “Rankin Fitch” starts in a very ambient way, with a slowly introduction of the keyboard, percussion and electronics. But it stays ambient, with the synth effects increasing towards the end.

“Spilt Whiskey” has its blues flavor punctuated by guitars and keyboard. “ The Devil's Not Such a Bad Guy After All” is a groovy exercise with no drums, based only on electric piano and some creative percussion. “Fayeth in Fate no More” is the lengthier track of the album that brings back some elements and motifs already heard in the score. Basically it is a suspense piece, with percussive and electronic effects. “Who Hurt You?” presents us with the best and the most intimate rendition of the main theme, followed by “Unconditional Love”, where the score is concluded with a very fine strings work, on which we hear for the last time the female voice.

Runaway Jury is a sometimes subtle, but most of time is a powerful score, one of the best for this genre of movies, with a well-deserved one-hour lenght Varèse Sarabande score album.

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