A Dreary Countryside We’ve Heard Before
Review by Thomas Midena
AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS is a romantic drama set in the picturesque hills of Texas and featuring the small-scale story of an outlaw who escapes from prison to reunite with his wife. This setting and plot is simple and familiar, leaving the tough job of creating a unique and engaging tone to up-and-coming composer DANIEL HART.
Somber independent American dramas have come to sound alike in the past few years. The long hollow tones and eerie, wailing strings are joyless and persistent. In this way AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS is a predictable score. Sustained drones are an easy way to fill the sonic space with (seemingly meaningful) sound, and it wasn’t long before they became uncomfortable in my ears.
The dream-like nature of the score as a whole wears thin quickly, and there is little substance to latch on to. This is a common drawback of the ambient, minimalist style soundtrack, but sometimes there is something unique or interesting enough to hold your hand and pull you through. An entry point, so to speak. So what makes AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS stand out? Possibly it’s use of human body percussion. For the most part DANIEL HART forsakes drum beats for the more natural sounds of clapping hands and slapping thighs. I am, in general, an emphatic fan of clapping sounds in music. It’s often rather rousing, a fine way to make the music feel alive, and in some strange way - social. It can engage the listener in the momentum. To some extent it is similarly effectual in AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS, however the rest of the score is so desolate that it’s hard to get too excited. This clapping quirk is not unique enough to make AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS musically interesting for me.