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Soundtrack Review

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Solo: A Star Wars Story
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack


Composer: John Powell with John Williams (Han Solo Theme and Original Star Wars Music)
Label: Walt Disney Records
Release Date: 25 May 2018

Walt Disney Records releases the original motion picture soundtrack for Solo: A Star Wars Story. The album features the score composed and adapted by Academy® and Grammy®-Award nominated composer John Powell and the new 'Han Solo Theme' and original Star Wars music by five-time Academy Award-winning composer John Williams...

A Star Wars film without John Williams's music is unthinkable. Okay, Michael Giacchino was responsible for delivering the score for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story... but then, for the most part, that didn't actually feel like a Star Wars film. A big screen outing that features Han and Chewie without Williams telling them when to run, jump to lightspeed or get out their blasters is a day some will have been dreading. Williams's classic Star Wars music is interwoven somewhat here and his new 'Han Solo Theme' is a welcome addition.

But when you hear what Powell delivers, you'll be relieved to discover that your worst nightmares have not been realised. It's a huge weight off my mind to discover that someone else can compose music just as powerful and beautiful as Williams. Sure Powell adapts quite a bit of Williams's older material, but to be fair, for the most part it's only really a nod here and a wink there.

The album contains 20 tracks (1 hr, 16 min, 42 sec) with Powell stamping his own mark on the Star Wars universe, delivering his 'Chewie Theme', 'Love Theme', 'Ensys Nest Theme', 'Gang Theme' and 'L3 Theme', as well as adapting the new 'Han Solo Theme' and some of the original Star Wars music by Williams. The opening track, 'The Adventures of Han' was composed and conducted by Williams.

Describing his approach to the Solo: A Star Wars Story score, Powell said, "There is a language that John Williams uses in the Star Wars films, and I’ve tried to live up to the quality of what he has done before by keeping form and structure within the score and following the storytelling as honestly and elegantly as possible.

"There is a lot of thematic material from the original movies that I used that are not specific to Han. They’re specific to the Millennium Falcon, TIE fighters and the Empire. Those types of things are very useful as they’re all part of the language we know. There are lots of other characters and ideas within the film that I wrote tunes and melodies (themes) for, so it’s a mixture of new themes by me, a new theme by John Williams, and some of the old material."

Powell does a remarkable job of stepping into Williams's shoes. It's structurally similar enough to sound like part of the same universe, whilst being different enough to draw you in and grab your attention. I'd argue that it doesn't have enough spine-chillingly memorable themes as I'd hoped. Mind you, it's only the original trilogy where Williams's truly managed to achieve that. Everything since has either been a little watered down, or constantly referencing old cues.

'Reminiscence Therapy' is mostly comprised of highlights of pieces of music from the original trilogy (mainly taking parts of 'Ben's Death and TIE Fighter Attack' (or 'Incoming Fighters' if you've bought a more recent copy of the score) from A New Hope and 'The Asteroid Field' from The Empire Strikes Back.

I think 'Lando's Closet' was the one standout track that made me realise Powell has the ability to truly take the universe and make it his own. Also noteworthy are 'Savareen Stand Off'; 'Good Thing You Were Listening'.

I suppose the biggest disappointment is that the score just ends in a rather lacklustre way. For those expecting the album to go out with a bang, you're out of luck.

Overall, a wonderfully enjoyable score, certainly worthy of the Star Wars universe.


Darren Rea

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