" Another charming score from the master of themes "
Written by Thomas Glorieux
- Review of
the regular release
How to Make an American Quilt, based on a novel of the same name is about several women in a quilting bee who construct a wedding quilt as a gift for a member's granddaughter. During the granddaughter's stay the women share their stories, which leads her to reflect on her life and where it is headed. Starring Winona Ryder, Anne Bancroft and Ellen Burstyn amongst others, it was a movie fit for a motion picture score by Thomas Newman. Newman who just had a remarkable previous year (2 Oscar nominations) secured his place on the map with another lovely orchestral dramatic score.
By now, you will have realized that Thomas Newman doesn't change a lot when he composes music for a motion picture. Not at all if those movies look or feel alike. How to Make an American Quilt therefore feels like a combination between last year's Little Women, bits of Scent of a Woman and bits of his eerie counterparts. The huge difference with Little Women however is that most of the tracks do last longer than a minute, often even mounting up to about 2 or 3 minutes, leaving more time available for Newman to develop his cues for a longer lasting effect. The only downside is that the score occasionally loses that effect. But like it disappears, so quickly it returns to reinstate that undeniable charm.
Strangely, for once I hear some resemblances with his brother David Newman in several parts of the score. Rarely did I say to myself, this is David not Thomas I hear here. "Quilting Theme" and "An American Quilt" (representing the lovely main theme) is evidence of that resemblance. Apart from that resemblance, it's another winner from the Thomas Newman theme cannon, irresistible to the human ear. But for me it is not this score's strongest theme. No for that we actually have to praise the theme for one of the sisters instead. Heard softly in "He Never Came Back" and powerful in "The Diver", it is once again solid proof that Thomas Newman has a born knack for beautiful themes. Of course true trailer fanatics will cherish "The Diver" cue immensely, as it made the trailer Heart of Atlantis so captivating.
For the remaining time, Newman's music is heard alongside the several songs of the era. But luckily, Newman's moments do outweigh the songs easily. "The Life Before" and "Crow" bring back happy memories of Scent of a Woman, especially due to its rhythmic pace. But at the same time, we often dream away a little too easy during several atmospheric tracks. More often than say Little Woman. So in a way, How to Make an American Quilt is not better as a listening experience. But what does it matter when 2 lovely themes literally change that experience again when they start singing those irresistible notes? Enough to recommend this score even if it's for about 4 tracks.
1. Quilting Theme (1.43)
2. "The Life Before" (2.23) Excellent track
3. Swinging on a Star: Bing Crosby (2.29)
4. Hyacinth & Gladiola (1.41)
5. Night Orchard (1.56)
6. He Never Came Back (1.47)
7. Cherry Cherry: Neil Diamond (2.43)
8. You Belong to Me: Patsy Cline (3.03)
9. Sophia (2.10)
10. The Sensation of Falling (0.36)
11. Foolish Things (0.53)
12. Riffin' at the Ritz: Benny Goodman (03:27)
13. At Last: Etta James (3.00)
14. Anna Loves / Leaves (1.37)
15. Crow (1.16)
16. An American Quilt (3.36) Excellent track
17. I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire: The Inkspots (2.59)
18. Portraits / Pond (2.00)
19. "Where Love Resides" (1.01)
20. The Diver (2.43) Excellent track
Total Length: 43.03