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The Shawshank Redemption

6 Ratings: 3.5
An album by Original Soundtrack

Original score composed by Thomas Newman. THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION was nominated for Best Instrumental Composition Written For A Motion Picture Or For Television.  Song List: Disc 1  1. May  2. Shawshank Prison (Stoic Theme)  3. … see full wiki

1 review about The Shawshank Redemption

Is It Busy Livin' or Busy Dyin'?

  • Jul 20, 2007
Pros: Simple and fitting

Cons: Slowness, white space, and extreme quiet lower replay value

The Bottom Line: Maybe keep a few tracks, otherwise you can probably go sell it somewhere.

What was it that when I decided to get a bunch of soundtracks, almost all of them were ridiculously long? So far I’ve only reviewed 2 soundtracks by Thomas Newman, but both of them were over 20 tracks. This one barely makes it over the 20 mark.

Normally I go song by song, pointing out how it twists and turns and specific instruments, etc. This time I’m going to forgo that for two reasons. First, because there are 20 tracks. Second, because Thomas Newman’s music is always very similar, both outside and within soundtracks. Though I can identify composers based on style, I have to say that his is probably the most similar throughout all the works I’ve heard from him. I will, however, make important notes you might want to know or statements I can’t help myself from saying.

1. May (:33)
2. Shawshank Prison - Stoic Theme (1:53)
3. New Fish (1:50)
4. Rock Hammer (1:51)
5. An Inch Of His Life (2:48)
6. If I Didn't Care (3:03) (performed by The Inkspots) – A song right out of the era the movie is supposed to take place in (40s I believe). I don’t doubt tat they fixed up the song as much as possible to make it sound as good as it does, albeit a little faded.
7. Brooks Was Here (5:06)
8. His Judgement Cometh (2:00)
9. Suds On The Roof (1:36)
10. Workfield (1:10)
11. Shawshank Redemption (4:26) – My favorite song; when Andy escapes and the reason I wanted to get the soundtrack.
12. Lovesick Blues (2:42) (performed by Hank Williams) – That’s right, Hank Williams.
13. Elmo Blatch (1:08)
14. Sisters (1:18)
15. Zihuatanejo (4:43)
16. The Marriage of Figaro - "Duettino - Sull'Aria" (3:32) (composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) – Yes, a little opera in here for you. It’s what the guys were listening to during the movie, so you get to hear it too.
17. Lovely Raquel (1:55)
18. And That Right Soon (1:08) - The most action you are going to hear in this soundtrack. Yay springy violins.
19. Compass And Guns (3:53)
20. So Was Red (2:44) - Very nice ending.
21. End Title (4:05) - Full feeling here, most orchestra you'll hear at once on this CD (seems like anyway)

Thomas Newman has a very distinctive style – even non-soundtrack junkies would probably be able to spot it. Most composers go all out with the whole orchestra. Newman does that, but in a minimalist way. His focus is more on piano that has sort of a floating, ethereal sound and echo to it in order to achieve the right mood. Second are the strings, brass being third, and percussion being last…somewhere. Woodwinds are few and far between with the clarinet as the most prominent instrument. You might also be able to say that there is a lot of white space in his music. Newman’s compositions could easily be compared to poetry, now that I think about it. But here's the thing; not everyone likes poetry. And even those who are able to appreciate it, may not go back and read the poem again.

In some places you can get a sense of it having some of that New Age feel. Mostly with the piano, but sometimes Newman uses subtle electronic movements. I don’t think there is any of that here, but then again, Newman does it so well, he easily could have slipped some in and I would never have known. Most of this CD is dark, though there are some uplifting and hopeful. Many of the tracks are so similar it is easy to forget which track you are on. For example, last I knew I was listening to "Brooks Was Here" and now I’m on "Workfield." Never even realized it until I heard the more lively violins of "Workfield."

You have to be a particular lover of Newman’s work in order to keep this CD around. Aside from its dim, despairing sort of sound, it is a very quiet CD similar to Meet Joe Black aside from occasional violins and swells in particular spots (of which there aren’t too many). So much quietness drops the replay value and usefulness of this CD, as it can be annoying to turn it up in order to simply hear it, only to freak out later when another song from a different album (or even computer sound) comes on your computer/MP3 player/CD player (if you forget to turn it down after changing CDs). I also don’t quite understand why "Shawshank Redemption" is in the wrong spot, but I admit I don’t remember enough of the music to know whether or not anything else is incorrectly placed. Mostly because it was too quiet to notice or distinguish from another piece.

Though I appreciate the emotions Newman can invoke from just a little piano and a handful of strings, I prefer a more full-bodied soundtrack that can get my heart beating faster (and it does not always have to be fast and action packed!) and my finger hitting the play button again and again. This is not that soundtrack. Works for the movie, but not very well outside of it.


P.S. Absolute perfect example of Newman’s use of the same style; listen to "Shawshank Redemption" and then "Swim Down" on the Finding Nemo soundtrack and tell me they don’t sound almost exactly the same.


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6 Ratings: +3.5
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The Shawshank Redemption
Label: Epic (USA)
Release Date: September 20, 1994

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