Music

HATFIELDS & MCCOYS Soundtrack Review

In our digital age, Westerns and Southerners on film and television have seemingly lost the ability to appeal to our basic emotions as they once did for whole generations before us.

With high expectations for its starstudded cast and captivating approach in story telling, the History Channel’s Hatfields & McCoys dared to shatter those misconceptions.

The modern retelling of Randolph McCoy (Bill Paxton) and William Hatfield (Kevin Costner) brought zest and renewed vigor to the two men’s beguiling cautionary tale. The show’s score, written and composed by John Debney and Tony Morales, was essential in helping the series to achieve that warm reception.

From the first few notes on the album, ushered in by slide guitar and haunting vocals, the original compositions breathe dust and mud-caked grit like the weathered boots of the early pioneers.

A cool mix of orchestral strings, jarring fiddles, steel guitars, banjos and bombastic percussion, the duos’ songs are not rehashed thematic sweeps augmented in tempo and tone to fit the story’s changing mood. Instead, each track stands proudly on its own, adding a curious depth and resonance to a violent and miserable tragedy.

It is unapologetically ominous and classically American, which is candidly displayed by Debney and Morales’ affinity for roots music.

Debney and Morales’ score added more than mere static to move along action sequences or to fill the voids between transitional scenes — it embodied the tortured history and bloody outcome of America’s most infamous family feud with brooding realism.

Yet all is not glum and gloom in the sonic world created for the warring clansmen. Tracks like “Love Theme” and “Rose Dies & Johnse Mourns” add humanity like bookends to one disturbing event after another.

Aside from the outstanding work by the credited composers, Costner and his band the Modern West are featured on the closing track, which seeps country, Appalachian bluegrass and proto-blues.

Full Tracklist:

1. Hatfields & McCoy Theme (Vocal – Lisbeth Scott) *
2. Battle / Innocent Death
3. Blood Ride
4. Long Shot Payback
5. The Shack
6. Randall Walks Home
7. Courtroom
8. Kill Bill
9. McCoy Boys Funeral
10. Judges Intervenes
11. Love Theme
12. Hatfield Warns Phillips
13. Johnse Held
14. Rose’s Chest
15. Elison Shot
16. Jim and Cap Chase McCoy
17. He’s Dead Jim
18. Hatfield Takes McCoy Boys
19. Vengeance Train
20. McCoy Boys Execution
21. Sally & Randall Cross Paths
22. Boys Killed
23. Mourning The Dead
24. Long Road Down
25. Aunt B Spills the Beans
26. I Don’t Want Your Money
27. Hatfields Ride
28. Randall Mutters
29. Long Cloaked Riders
30. Jim Vance Hunted Down
31. Devil Takes Johnse Fishing
32. Showdown
33. Rose Talks to Randall
34. Rose Dies & Johnse Mourns
35. McCoy Crazy
36. Blood Sets the Table
37. Hatfields And McCoys Theme
38. The Long Road Down (Vocal – Lisbeth Scott) *
39. I Know These Hills (vocal – Sara Beck with Modern West) **

* Featuring Lisbeth Scott
** Featuring Kevin Costner and the Modern West. Vocals by Sara Beck.

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The Author

Ben Solis

Ben Solis

Ben Solis lives in Canton, MI, nestled cozily between Ann Arbor and Detroit -- two fantastic hubs for art, music, film and theater culture. Solis is studying journalism at Washtenaw Community College and serves as Editor-In-Chief of The Washtenaw Voice, the college's award-winning campus and community news publication. In addition, his work has been published by The Metro Times, AnnArbor.com and MusicMarauders.com. An avid film and music junkie, Solis is crazy about comic books, Batman and serves as an admin for The Official Dark Knight Rises Facebook Community. Visit my website - http://washtenawvoice.com