Film Music Review
The Sammy awards






  Special Merit 


Music composed and produced by James Newton Howard

16 Tracks (Playing Time = 59:48)


Album Executive Producers: M. Night Shyamalan and Susan Jacobs. Orchestrations: Jeff Atmajian, Brad Dechter, Jon Kull, Patrick Russ. Performed by The Hollywood Studio orchestra, conducted by Pete Anthony. Recorded by Shawn Murphy. Mixed by Joel Iwataki, Shawn Murphy. Mastered by Pat Sullivan. Music Editor: Thomas Drescher..

Decca Records CD B0007309-02

Rating: ****


This is a late review for a film released during the Summer of 2006. Why review it now? Mainly because somehow this one slipped by and it is too good not to review it, so here goes...

James Newton Howard has scored all of writer-director M. Night Shymalan's thriller films. Howard's brilliant score for THE VILLAGE was named for a Sammy Award in 2004. His music continues to serve Shymalan's films extremely well.

LADY IN THE WATER was a weaker and more muddled effort from Shymalan than his previous films. Since it concerns a mysterious "lady" who appears unexpectedly from a swimming pool, there is an equally mysterious quality to the music.

The "Prologue" (2:52) features wordless voices and and a shimmering blend of tinkling percussion and strings. This nicely sets up the mood of the score and also the film. Other tracks continue this mood.

For example track 3, "Charades" (5:50), which has a heavily accented theme for timpani and strings and gradually grows in volume, with a solo piano and other instruments, but the main thrust is an strong repeated pattern in the lower strings.

Another fine track is track 5, "The Blue World" (4:25). This one also has a dark string and percussion sound and a more agitated and accented rhythmic burst. This is proably the best track of the CD with its constantly shifting between quieter and more agitated sounds.

Yet another highlight is "The Healing (track 10, 4:03), with a soothing comforting quality which befits the mood of this cue. The next track is "The Great Eatlon" (4:41) which is the climactic scene of the film and the music is highly charged to accompany it, including a large wordless chorus. The music for the "End Titles" (track 12, 1:43) is short but brings the score to a satisfying calm conclusion.

On the last four tracks, there are four Bob Dylan songs: "The Times They Are A-Changin'" (performed by Whisper In The Noise); "Every Grain Of Sand" (Amanda Ghost); "It Ain't Me Babe" (Silvertide); "Maggie's Farm" (Silvertide). None of these songs are sung with the energy or integrity of Dylan himself and are totally unnecessary. Why do producers continue to stick these mediocre singers on soundtrack albums? The first Dylan song is particlarly poorly performed by a mumble-mouthed singer. The two Silvertide selections are raucous hard-rockers and nothing memorable. Amanda Ghost's singing comes off best in the second Dylan song, which also has the best arrangement.

Sound levels on this soundtrack could be somewhat higher but they are more than adequate. The CD flyer has no notes, only the names of the many musicians and technicians involved in this soundtrack production.

James Newton Howard continues to do excellent work on the Shymalan films.

Discounting the four unecessary Dylan songs which are badly performed, LADY IN THE WATER is one of the highlights of the year for film soundtracks.

An outstanding musical expereince.


--Roger Hall, 14 December 2006

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