Stephen Endelman,
(Decca, 2002)

I like soundtracks that can stand on their own without the film to which the songs are associated. A great soundtrack is one that not only sounds appealing by itself, but also supports the storyline in the movie without overwhelming it. I'm not sure if Evelyn is a great soundtrack (as I haven't seen the film), but Stephen Endelman definitely created a CD that I enjoy listening to.

For those of you not familiar with this movie staring Pierce Brosnan (as something other than James Bond) the film is a true story set in 1953 Ireland. It is about a father fighting both Church and State for custody of his children (one of whom is named Evelyn). Instead of an action role, Pierce demonstrates his ability to act in a drama.

Have you already guessed what type of music you'll hear on this soundtrack? If you didn't guess Irish, then you would be right about only one of the 18 tracks. For the most part, the instruments are the typical fiddle, flute and percussion you would expect to hear with traditional Irish music. Some of the pieces are lively and upbeat, but there are just as many slow tunes that I can only imagine are the backdrop to melancholic scenes in the film. Many tracks sound like there are only a handful of musicians. Just as many sound as if a full orchestra is backing the melody.

Some of the selections definitely stand out as notable. Such is the case with the four tracks with vocal accompaniment. The first two I would mention are "On the Banks of the Roses" and "The Parting Glass." The male vocals are strong and have character as you would expect to hear in an Irish pub from someone who was not a "professional" singer, but had a decent voice. I will admit that I did a double take when I glanced at the track listing and saw that Pierce was listed as the performer for these two songs!

My favorite song on Evelyn is the last track. "Angel Rays" is expertly performed by Sissel. If you do not recognize her name, you would undoubtedly recognize her voice from the movie Titanic. Of course, I am not talking about Celine Dion's love theme, but the vocals otherwise heard throughout that film. If you are one of the few who hasn't seen Titanic, I can only guess that you are not a fan of modern cinema. Regardless, Sissel has a prettier voice than Celine and I am surprised that this European is not more popular in the United States.

My least favorite song is the first one, "On Top of the World." Van Morrison is a popular musician and this legendary singer-songwriter has definitely sold more than his share of albums. Unfortunately, I personally feel that this track does not set the proper Irish mood for the CD as a whole. I think the soundtrack would have been just fine with 17 tracks.

Evelyn is a soundtrack that is worth checking out if you like Irish music. Some of the sound is a bit watered down with orchestration and I can imagine that it would sound too much like a soundtrack for the hard-core Irish music fan. In general, however, I have no qualms about recommending Evelyn. Even the one song I don't care for is really not that bad.

- Rambles
written by Wil Owen
published 7 April 2003

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