All The Pretty Horses (Soundtrack)

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All Music Guide

Sure, the movie was no Sling Blade, even if directed by the one and only Billy Bob Thornton. But let's face it, they took two hours outta the thing! All the griping aside, the score, composed and performed by country music renaissance man Marty Stuart -- and his collaborating band members Kristin Wilkinson and Larry Paxton -- is something else completely. Comprised of 23 tracks, Stuart's score does sound like soundtrack music, but no matter. He and his sextet have taken the drama of the film's text and created an aural theater of the American West. At the heart of each theme is a core of mandolin, viola, bass, guitar, accordion, piano, and percussion. Orchestrations ride ambiently in the background, highlighting tension and drama. In "Edge of the World," cornets play at the music's outermost edge, hinting at a red Sonoran sunset. In another place, guitars, both strummed and soloed upon, create an impressionistic picture of a campfire jam session. Elsewhere, "Strawberry Tango, Part One and Two" features a full horn and string section painting the atmosphere at a cantina dance from its wild beginnings until its sultry ending. Daniel Lanois, who scored Thornton's Sling Blade (well, it actually sounds as if he threw a bunch of leftover studio bits on a tape for the movie), makes a return appearance here with an actual song. The track "Porque" features the stirring vocals of Raul Malo of the Mavericks, who contributed the lyrics to the selection. It's a sad, romantic ballad. Lost love drips from the cowboy's hat, regret drapes itself in tears in his shaded eyes, and he stands out in the rain singing to no one. Also, homage is paid to Stuart's greatest influence and benefactor, the daddy of bluegrass music himself, Bill Monroe. His "My Last Days on Earth" is included here. (Everybody knows nobody was listening to bluegrass music in Texas or Mexico in the late '30s.) The only real complaint about this gorgeous score is its brevity. Clocking in at under 50 minutes, it's easy to hear where edits have been made out of longer tracks, though each piece flows into the next like water. It's a mirror image of the movie but doesn't suffer near as badly for it. Despite his already prodigious talents as a songwriter, singer, and musician who is almost single-handedly keeping the country music tradition alive in the modern idiom, Stuart has proven himself a capable and worthy composer of film music. Here's hoping there's more work of this kind in his future.

By Thom Jurek

Novelist Cormac McCarthy's literary vision of the wild west is given wide-screen treatment by maverick director Billy Bob Thornton and a cast that includes Matt Damon, Penelope Cruz, and Bruce Dern. Professional country music journeyman Marty Stuart has performed with father-in-law Johnny Cash, Earl Scruggs, and Doc Watson, in addition to a successful solo career. In his soundtrack scoring debut, he provides short, meditative instrumental pieces that are subtly explosive--rife as they are with strains of old-school country and bluegrass. Cinematic strings and orchestral percussion add a welcome menacing edge, augmenting the rustic approach without crossing over into a compromised "countrypolitan" sound. If anything, it might be nice to hear these themes extended. As it stands, the 23 listed tracks are covered in a little under 50 minutes, with many of the cuts barely lasting more than a minute or two. They stand as a new genre of cinematic country minimalism. * * * *

By Rob O'Connor

At The Movies

Jan. 5, 2001

During the first 10 minutes or so of All the Pretty Horses, lovers of the classic American western tradition may find their hearts beginning to palpitate. And with good reason: director Billy Bob Thornton ("Sling Blade") and cinematographer Barry Markowitz aim their Panavision cameras high and wide, taking in one big-sky vista after another along Texas border country as Marty Stuart's spare score joins in for the ride.

By Dan Craft

Barnes & Noble

Fans of country music veteran Marty Stuart will undoubtedly be thrilled with his score for All the Pretty Horses, the film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's bestselling novel from director Billy Bob Thornton (Sling Blade). Not surprisingly, Stuart focuses the score on the guitar, which is so central that it serves as a character, as atmosphere, and as narrator. The guitar is always heard in the forefront of the music regardless of a track's setting or style, and Stuart is able to conjure myriad emotions from the instrument's slender frame. This approach works because Stuart's mix of country music styles with hints of mariachi captures the story's time (post-WWII) and place (Mexico), as well as the motivation of the characters -- most notably, love and adventure. The spacious, simple opening track "Desert Dream" alludes to a distant sadness, perhaps of forbidden love. Equally potent are "Porque," a sweet Mexican love song, and the nostalgic "My Last Days on Earth/What's It Like to Be Dead?" brought to life by sustained strings, twangy guitar, and bass pedal tones. Stuart's score is musically consistent and easy on the nerves, and it's likely to touch you whether you're a country music fan or not.

By Jane Komarov

Calgary Sun

December 23, 2000

The film's soundtrack, featuring traditional Mexican folk music and western-flavoured moody instrumentals by Marty Stuart and Daniel Lanois, also helps fill out the story.

By Mike Bell


To truly capture the gritty feel of Cormac McCarthy's dusty-trail cowboy saga in musical terms, you'd have to have a soundtrack that included the likes of Hank Williams, "El Paso"-era Marty Robbins, Jimmie Rodgers, and some mariachi thrown in for good measure. Of course, that kind of soundtrack would, for commercial reasons, never wash (kinda like the 'boys in the flick). What we have in its stead is a horse of a different color -- a lush, highly orchestrated instrumental song cycle, part acoustic, part dramatic spaghetti Western, part mariachi trumpet, with a couple of rootsy songs serving as cornerstones. And there's some sweet playing on these gorgeous arrangements.

Composer Marty Stuart's guitar/mandolin and co-composer Kristin Wilkinson's cello turn such songs as the spicy "Strawberry Tango, Parts 1&2," the richly layered "Cowboy's Dream," and the Stuart-sung, Willie Nelson-ish "Far Away" into Western-style epics.

The record does not aim to appeal to fans of hardcore country or even those who enjoy the sounds of the mainstream Nashville. It does, thanks to Stuart, Wilkinson, and co-writer Larry Paxton, make a delightful Sunday-morning disc, perfect with a cup of coffee and a drizzly forecast. Not quite what McCarthy had in mind, surely, when he sat down to write the book, but a pretty piece of work nonetheless.

By Bob Gulla

The Charlotte Observer

December 25, 2000

Country singer Marty Stuart, who plays guitar and mandolin on the soundtrack, has composed a lilting score with a broad, attractive theme.

By Lawrence Toppman

December 25, 2000

Thornton certainly captures McCarthy's sense of scope, although some of Marty Stuart's self-consciously soaring music sounds too much like the usual "Magnificent Seven" (1960) rewrite.

By Paul Tatara

Denver Post

December 25, 2000

Cinematographer Barry Markowitz gets an almost 3-D effect from the way he focuses on the mesas, canyons, trees and scrub into the film. And Marty Stuart's somberly romantic, Western-themed score evocatively accompanies the scenery.

By Steven Rosen

DVD Malaysia

May 1, 2001
Last but not least, Marty Stuart has put together a brilliant soundtrack that helps a lot in the flow of the story. The soundtrack often fills the gap of silence and promotes a sense of the 1949-era. The soundtrack of the film is mesmerizing when it comes out via the front channels and the rear channels.

Film Music On The Web

March 2001

Billy Bob Thornton's adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's award winning first volume of his 'Border Trilogy' benefits greatly from a wonderfully vibrant, charming score that manages to transcend the confines of country music or even the conventions of the traditional western and sparkles with lyrical passion and real warmth.

The acoustic rhythm guitar of 'Cowboy's Dream' is very typical of the music as a whole and with its strong string backing and a few country styled twangs this makes a very appealing opening. The same can also be said for 'Canyon Sonata', although this is bleaker in tone and heavier on atmosphere. And this high standard is maintained with 'All the Pretty Horses', where more rhythm guitar and an attractive Mexican flavour support a strong melody that lingers in the memory.

But this is a soundtrack with strength in depth and many cues such as 'Malarki Opus in D Major', featuring some lively mandolin playing and 'Edge of the World' with Mexican guitar and brass in mellow romantic mode, make their mark. Thematically too there are impressive moments on 'John Grady's Angel', 'The King of Horses' and 'Long Journey Home', all restrained variations of the 'All the Pretty Horses' theme and after some spirited dance rhythms on the suitably titled 'Strawberry Tango, Parts 1 &2', there are also more thoughtful passages including a reprise of 'Canyon Sonata'. And as if this is not enough, there are still the poignant and affecting 'Far Away (Alejandra's Phone Call)' and the equally moving 'Ain't that a Drag' to admire. Really, it is this sheer variety of musical motifs that make this score so rewarding and you can add to the list of notable contributions both the Daniel Lanois written 'Waltz for Hope' plus 'Far Away', a gently affecting ballad with a vocal performance by co-composer Marty Stuart himself, a major country performer in his own right (with several Grammys to his name).

This eminently likeable score has an engaging combination of familiar western characteristics (vaguely reminiscent in flashes of Elmer Bernstein) intertwined with something more personal and individual that manages to keep everything fresh. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. * * * *

By Mark Hockley

After a year of relatively uneventful and mainstream film scores, All the Pretty Horses stands out with obvious distinction. It has been a while since the film score community was hit with a full blooded Western, and it has been a very long time since a group of Country music artists were the ones to accomplish that feat. The score for this Billy Bob Thornton south-of-the-border Western/Drama/Romance is so unlike anything else over the past few years that its simple novelty warrants it extra attention. It should come as no surprise that the score was nominated for a Golden Globe award; the composers are all well established in the Country music scene. Marty Stuart, of course, is the Grammy-winning songwriter, performer, and theatrical composer who is best known for his album Hillbilly Rock in 1989. No less capable are the other artists who co-composed All the Pretty Horses. Both Kristin Wilkinson and Larry Paxton are experienced songwriters and performers with famous orchestral and Country performing groups. All of them have arranged and composed music for many of the Country scene's top recording artists.

But, you ask, how do they produce a major film score? Well, I had the same reservations, as I always do, about well-known artists from non-classical (and especially Country) genres of music stepping onto the scoring stage. What I failed to realize --even though I knew much about the Cormac McCarthy's book and story of All the Pretty Horses-- is that the hiring of Stuart, Wilkinson, and Paxton (among others) to compose the score for the film adaptation was not only a gutsy move, but a successful one. The finished musical product for the film is a refreshing and enjoyable one. It hails back, without directly ripping off, Western motifs from scores of long ago. There are styles of Dimitri Tiomkin's Gunfight at the OK Corral mingled with Lee Holdridge's Old Gringo, and many of the spicy moments of ethnic flavor bring back memories of the old Ennio Morricone Westerns for which his career was once famous. Certain rhythms mimic the prancing beats of the reknown Elmer Bernstein Western themes as well. Whether it was simply the dancing of the tamborine or the excess of guitars, there is something about All the Pretty Horses that stikes a positive chord in light of the mentioned classic Westerns. Its only weakness, I would argue, is its poor handling of the more sinister moments of the story; it doesn't evoke enough feeling of fear or uncertainty when needed.

Part of the score's appeal is obviously its genre. It's been so long since we heard a really good, new Western score that All the Pretty Horses knocks you on your side simply from its loyalty to its genre. The title themes of the score, performed in the end by Stuart himself, are exhilerating compositions for guitars and a well balanced orchestra. They are simple themes, drawing on simple Country Western chord motifs, but their elegance in their full performances compensates for such simplicity (and even, to an extent, cliche percussion). The songwriting tendencies of the composers are easily heard in the free-flowing and memorable themes. While the themes only occupy about 8 to 10 minutes of the entire score, they dominate its every aspect. The remaining 30 minutes of score were best described by an industry insider as "cinematic country minimalism." The traditional guitar, along with its accoustical bass and percussion are almost always present during the score, and the orchestra weaves in and out with richly mixed strings when needed. While there are extended sequences of slightly audible, rather unexciting moments beginning at track five, there are also singular tracks of Mexican flavor that are very tastefully performed by trumpets (unlike the stereotypical, drunken trumpets that often blast away when portraying Mexicans... Alex North comes to mind). The "Strawberry Tango" track is a playful twist on that ethnic half of the score. The final track has hidden music after a silence; rumour has it that this was originally going to be a separate track at the end called "El Buxbombed."

Perhaps the most admirable and impressive attribute of the music for All the Pretty Horses is its consistency. A number of the tracks in the middle of the album were composed by other artists, and yet you'd never know it from the maintenance of consistency throughout. Only the electronic choir in track seventeen stands out (though welcome) as different. In these regards, the collective effort of Marty Stuart, Kristin Wilkinson, and Larry Paxton --who not only composed the score, but performed it as well-- is simply remarkable. It is the ultimate team effort, and it worked. I cannot recommend All the Pretty Horses to all traditional film score collectors unconditionally. I believe that no matter your tastes, you will enjoy the title themes performed at the beginning and end of the album, but I would not guarantee that every one of you will like the minimalistic Western music in between. For me, Western scores are a guilty pleasure, and this one is not only elegant in its tribute to classic Western film score motifs, but its instumentation is contemporary enough to distinguish itself as as 21st Century Western. I consider this score to be one of the best of the year, for reasons of its ingenuity, consistency, and personality. There's just something great about hearing a good Western score in the year 2001. * * * *

Guide Live

Barry Markowitz's cinematography, Marty Stuart's guitar-strumming score and Sally Menke's editing – the slashing could not have been easy – help render the essence of Mr. McCarthy's chef-d'oeuvre.

By Jane Sumner

Hotdog Magazine

Three-time Grammy-winner Marty Stuart’s classical country opus is an unashamedly romantic journey from a lazy morning on the plains of Texas to a sleepy Mexican hacienda at sunset (and back again). Ebbing and flowing like the Rio Grande at midsummer, the soundtrack to Billy Bob Thornton’s cowboy epic is gently orchestral with a guitar always leading the way. There are moments when the shadow of Hank Marvin casts a little gloom on proceedings and you’d be forgiven for expecting Chris Isaak to start crooning, but this’ll definitely make you feel at home on the range.

By Paul Henderson

February 4, 2001
It’s easy to see why collectors hesitate on the soundtrack album. You see three names on the cover and you don’t recognize any of them. With names like Marty and Larry you expect country and western songs. Since it’s a movie you didn’t check out at the theater you’ll just play it safe and pass on the CD. Sony doesn’t help matters. There’s nothing on the packaging to indicate an orchestral score. Suzie Katayama’s conductor credit is buried inside. And cue titles like “Purty Dad-Gum Good”, “Mild Cello Blues”, “Malarki Opus in D Major”, “Get My Boots” and “Strawberry Tango” certainly don’t say “big orchestra”. But there’s an orchestra nonetheless, and these three composers make good music.

From now on, so things’ll go quicker, I’ll just mention Marty Stuart. Though all three composers are listed on the cover it’s just Stuart that gets billing in the movie credit block anyway. Tracks don’t appear in the same order as they do in the movie. It’s not a problem though because the score never mimics specific actions on screen. It’s used for mood instead. The setting moves from Texas to Mexico and back again, so the music sits on the border. There’s a western flavor, mingling with sounds more South of the border. Strings and horns are prominent, but used in broad, melodic ways. There’s no dissonance. A nice timbre in the score is the sound of a small combo, made up of guitar, mandolin, bass, percussion, viola, accordion and piano. When balanced within the larger orchestra the results are wonderful. It’s that unique sound, in fact, that gives the music its rich, flavorful sound. It’s also an incredibly clean recording too, made at Todd-AO. While the music isn’t dense or particularly challenging in structure, the sounds and colors are varied. Intricate, involved mixing is very apparent, making this one of the most vibrant film scores of late.

There are several themes. Interestingly, they all start in minor keys, but utilize major chords prominently within. A “blues” feeling. “Cowboy’s Dream” is a slower, moving idea. “All the Pretty Horses” uses more motion and features a climbing motif. This second theme, when slowed down and played by the smaller ensemble, makes for a striking effect. It’s played gently in “Canyon Sonata”, sadly in “John Grady’s Angel”. There are rousing moments too. “Malarki Opus In D Major” turns out to be a spectacular display of finger picking and orchestral pizzazz. And keeping me happy is a strong finish, albeit there’s essentially a hidden track that follows. The opening theme returns, moving to a powerful splash of Spanish trumpet amidst a rustle of guitars. The main “All the Pretty Horses” theme takes over and the orchestra carries everything to a sturdy close. This final cue, a medley, does pause briefly before moving to a kind of postscript. There’s a gentle, unassuming reprise of the South of the border flavor. Even this comes to a satisfying close. If you can find the time, check out the movie. Either way, make time for the album.

By Doug Fake


January 25, 2001
The movie may be a dud, but the soundtrack to All The Pretty Horses is a classic. Marty Stuart's first attempt at a soundtrack is a phenomenal effort, producing haunting songs that are simultaneously gritty and beautiful. Stuart blends Mexican folk, western, and classical music into a lush sounding, yet surprisingly simple score.

The album maintains a country feel, but keep in mind that this is a soundtrack to a romantic movie. The songs are fairly short in length and long on atmosphere, and some songs might even be described as "pretty." However, if you need a country music album for romantic dinners or nights you can't sleep, consider the soundtrack to All the Pretty Horses.

By David Lowe

Matinee Magazine

December 17, 2000

It seems old-hat to call a Western visionary these days, but this film can at least visually be put right alongside the best of them, with Barry Markowitz's seductive camerawork and Marty Stuart's flavorful, country-twangy score adding to the picture's captivating details. And I suppose though it mars the final product in many ways, Sally Menke's editing is still first-rate, since at least the movie still makes narrative sense, something most filmmakers today seem to struggle with in "troubled" productions.

By Jason Clark

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

And Nashville singer-songwriter Marty Stuart, whose concept album "The Pilgrim" showed a cinematic storytelling sensibility, and singer-songwriter Daniel Lanois, who produced pivotal albums by U2, Emmylou Harris and Bob Dylan and the music for "Sling Blade," team up to create an acoustically delicate soundscape.

By Duane Dudek

Movie Music UK

I've spoken about preconceptions many times before on Movie Music UK; pre-judging a score based on what you know about the movie, and the composer, before you hear the music. Once again, I have been found guilty of negatively pre-judging a particular score, only to hear the thing and be totally blown away. The score in question this time is All the Pretty Horses, written by Marty Stuart, with additional music by Larry Paxton, Kristin Wilkinson and Daniel Lanois.

All the Pretty Horses is director Billy Bob Thornton's sophomore effort, following his critically acclaimed, Oscar-winning debut Sling Blade. It's a rites-of-passage Western, adapted from the popular novel by Cormac McCarthy and starring Matt Damon as John Grady Cole, a young man in rural 1940s Texas who, after being made homeless following his grandmother's death, heads off to Mexico with his best buddy Lacey Rawlins (Henry Thomas) to seek his fortune. Unfortunately, fortune is not what Cole and Rawlins find south of the Rio Grande, instead becoming involved in the affairs of a teenage gunslinger Blevins (Lucas Black), a Mexican rancher's daughter (Penelope Cruz), with whom Cole falls in love, and the local police, who take exception to the blossoming romance between the handsome American and the beautiful señorita.

The preconceptions about this score came from the fact that Marty Stuart, the primary creative force behind the music, is better known to the world as a country 'n western singer, with hit albums such as Tempted, Hillbilly Rock, The Pilgrim and This One's Gonna Hurt You to his name. As a solo artist, I like Stuart a lot, but in my mind the idea of him writing an orchestral film score was as ludicrous as Garth Brooks, or Vince Gill, or even Dolly Parton writing one. How wrong could I be? All the Pretty Horses is an evocative, haunting celebration of the music of the American west, filled with the familiar strains of acoustic guitars, mandolins, accordions, and lush strings, but given a fresh spin by Stuart's new approach to their use. The music written by Stuart and his cohorts is nothing less than gorgeous; the music is as warm as the desert sun, and as beautiful as a sunset over the Grand Canyon.

The opening track, "Cowboy Dream" is a superb amalgam of the six-member "combo" and Suzy Katayama's orchestra, giving the score a strong thematic anchor, and is soulfully recapitulated in "John Grady's Angel," "The King of Horses" and the melancholy "Long Journey Home." The score's other primary theme appears in the third track, "All the Pretty Horses," and builds from a dreamy set of opening chords into an ebullient anthem for the West, replete with brass fanfares and guitar chords that roll effortlessly of Stuart's nimble fingers.

What is most impressive about All the Pretty Horses is the wonderful sense of style, and the musical excellence Stuart brings to the proceedings. Without wanting to sound unkind to the many excellent practitioners in the pop, rock and country arenas, but it just never occurred to me that they might be capable of this kind of orchestral expression. Some of Stuart's touches are magnificent - the Spanish trumpets in "Purty Dad-Gum Good" and the lazy Mariachi tones of "Edge of the World" provide a welcome change of pace and atmosphere, although they are somewhat reminiscent of Three Amigos and make you smile at the similarity, while Stuart himself contributes a series of marvellously impressionistic touches to "After the Rain" and "Mild Cello Blues" that indicate a surprisingly solid understanding of scoring techniques and dissonance.

Other moments of note include the unexpected tuba solo, flamenco fanfares and Zorro-esque handclaps in the lively "Strawberry Tango.", and the action cue "Malarki Opus in D Major." which combines a virtuoso guitar element with a deep, throbbing orchestral accompaniment. Sling Blade composer Daniel Lanois' contributions comprise the tracks "Waltz for Hope," a gently romantic guitar piece, and "Porque," a gentle Spanish ballad performed by Raul Malo; the sorrowful "My Last Days on Earth" is the sole contribution of composer Bill Monroe, but stands out as an emotional high spot as the only track to feature a choir. Rounding out the album is a vocal version of the score's love theme, the vaguely Randy Newmanish "Far Away," performed by Stuart himself.

Comparing All the Pretty Horses with other scores is difficult. At times it invokes the dream-like textures of Chris Young's Bright Angel, and the life and good-humour of Mark Knopfler's Cal or Local Hero, while at others is contains the same effortless energy of anything Elmer Bernstein or Jerome Moross might have written in their heyday. Some of the orchestral effects are as inventive as anything Morricone wrote for Sergio Leone, and it even manages to work in some vivacious Spanish inflections for its south-of-the-border setting.

All the Pretty Horses is one of the most surprising, and most enjoyable albums to emerge during the latter months of 2000, and fans of Western scores are eagerly encouraged to seek it out. It may be more to do Stuart's music business clout than the score's excellence in itself, but the fact that Sony Classical have released it must be an indication of how highly regarded this project is. If that were not enough, the Golden Globe nomination bestowed upon it also speaks volumes. Here's hoping that Marty Stuart's film music career is not a one-hit wonder. * * * *

Music Buff

January 2001

This is a lovely soundtrack with a very appealing mix of score with a few good songs. The film is based on Cormac McCarthy's acclaimed novel and was directed by Billy Bob Thornton.

Three people are credited with this score: Marty Stuart, a Grammy Award-winning country music songwriter and singer; Kristin Wilkinson, a respected performer, arranger and composer; and Larry Paxton, a multi-talented instrumentalist. It appears that all three are making their soundtrack debut with this CD. And Marty Stuart has already worked with director Billy Bob Thornton on an upcoming film, Daddy & Them. His prospects look good in the soundtrack arena based on his work on All The Pretty Horses.

The film is described as "a sweeping odyssey about a young man's encounters with responsibility, love, revenge and survival." That character is a young Texan, John Grady Cole (played by Matt Damon). Cole and his best friend Lacey Rawlins (Henry Thomas) travel south of the border where Cole meets and falls in love with the young daughter (Penelope Cruz) of a weatly Mexican landowner.

The music on this soundtrack has a definite Mexican flavor, with ample use of guitars, trumpet and bass. But there's also lots of lush romantic music included. Many of the tracks feature solo guitars, such as "John Grady's Angel" (track 8) and "The King of Horses" (track 12).

There's also a few tracks composed by others.

One is a flavorful Spanish song, "Porque" (track 14), written by Daniel Lanois and performed by Raul Malo. Also by Daniel Lanois is the somber yet very dramatic, "Waltz For Hope" (track 15). Then there's a tune by Bluegrass legend, Bill Monroe, "My Last Days On Earth" (track 17). In addition, there are two tunes by the soundtrack trio. The first, "Strawberry Tango, Parts 1 and 2" (track 11) was written by Stuart, Wilkinson, Paxton, Sam Bucco, and Chris McDonald. This is one of the most inventive tracks on the CD - a real honey of a sound with rich guitar and mandolin licks plus wonderful trumpet and tuba accompaniment. The other tune is "Far Away" (tracks 21-22) - a fine song written and sung by Marty Stuart.

The sound on this CD is exceptionally full and rich. This Golden Globe-nomnee is well worth adding to your soundtrack collection, especially if you enjoy laid back Mexican flavored music.

Beautifully performed and recorded. I highly recommended this soundtrack release.

By Roger Hall

Music From The Movies

Really special scores seldom come along and quite often when they do they often come from composers not actively involved in making movie music full time. So their perspectives can be very different from that of a jobbing film composer. Of course few people realise this as they sit tight in their cinema seat. The music for All the Pretty Horses, composed by Marty Stuart, Kristen Wilkinson and Larry Paxton is a special thing. Arguably, one of the most skillful film scores to have come out of Hollywood in years. And yes it deserves to be released, as an album in it's own right. I've listened to nothing else for days.

All the Pretty Horses is an epic love story set in America just after the end of World War Two. A young Texan named John Grady Cole, played by Matt Damon, finds himself without a home after his mother sells the ranch where he has spent his entire life. Lured by the romance of cowboy life and the promise of a fresh start Cole and his pal, played by Henry Thomas, embark on a journey south of the border. Along the way they cross paths with a volatile 13-year old misfit, played by Lucas Black. It's an encounter that will precipitate much of the trouble that lies ahead. Before long, Cole falls in love with the beautiful young daughter, played by Penelope Cruz, of a wealthy landowner, an affair forbidden by her family. What follows is an adventure that will test their resilience, define their maturity and change their lives forever. The film is poetic and visually stunning, as is the music.

What the music sets out to do, and succeeds, is to evoke the moods of a classic western whilst fusing it with a highly developed country and western modern sensibility. It's a graceful mix that achieves all it's aims. Moods fluctuate and burn around endlessly haunting guitars. Kind of Ry Cooder meets Angelo Badalamenti meets Greek guitar flamenco. Throw in a dose of Aaron Copeland combined with some textures from Simon and Garfunkal's early musical and sonic triumphs and there you have it. The main personality behind the music is Marty Stuart, one of America's biggest selling Country artists. He has been nominated for eight Grammy awards and won three. But his country and western roots are merely a starting point for All the Pretty Horses. Things, on the whole, are kept pretty low key and free of clichés.

For the most part the music is played by a small band, with guitars and mandolin, bass, percussion, viola, accordion and piano with the occasional string section reinforcing the mood. But on the whole it's the detail and good taste of the band that drives the work. You will here on this album some of the finest guitar recording from the engineering skills of Jim Mitchell and the crew at the Todd-AO scoring stage in Los Angeles. The detail in the guitar work shines through throughout. It really is the voice of the score. Low strumming opens the album before a subtle mix of lead and rhythm guitars and string arrangements works as a brief taster of the cowboy aspirations that are about to follow. And what does follow is an assortment of very fine tunes with no one dominant theme. Sometimes the moods are threatening whilst in other places there are playful optimistic dance tunes. Banjo tunes for dance and chase sequences and then careful brass fanfares combine with Spanish guitars to move the listener through time and place. Halfway through the album, film composer and U2's Record Producer, Daniel Lanois contributes two tracks, which fit with the rest of the album. Then it's on to the albums showpiece song. 'Far Away.' Marty Stuart's only vocal contribution to the album is a tale of homecoming and loss, underplayed and sad in the extreme with those guitars taking most of the emotional burden. The album ends and I hope an Oscar awaits this score.

By Simon Duff

Feb. 1, 2001

As so many film soundtrack CDs consist of whatever’s on the Top 10 the week the film is released, it’s refreshing to find one on which real live musicians (who aren’t named Danny Elfman) have produced original songs specifically geared to the texture and plot of the film. It’s especially refreshing when it’s done so well. Marty Stuart produced, co-wrote and plays guitar and mandolin on this beautiful album of cowboy songs, waltzes and tangos. I’m told the filmmaker, Mr. Billy Bob Thornton, listened to nothing but Chet Atkins while writing the screenplay; Atkins’ forays into Latin music are an obvious influence. A few songs sound a bit overproduced: To my ears, the orchestra seems out of place. But mostly the arrangements are appropriately sparse. The set includes a cover of Bill Monroe’s “My Last Day on Earth” and one vocal track, “Far Away,” which Stuart delivers in a sweet voice reminiscent of Willie Nelson.

By Keith Lowell Jensen

One Guy's Opinion

To end on a more positive note, one can praise Barry Markowitz's elegant cinematography, which gives the outdoor shots a luminous, radiant quality, and the obvious but effective score by Marty Stuart.

PopMatters Music

As with my review of the soundtrack to The Tic Code, I should qualify this one by stating that I have not seen the film All The Pretty Horses. People stayed away in droves, reviews were not kind on balance, and the movie has pretty much come and gone by now (though it awaits its second life in the video store).

So where does that leave this soundtrack as an item unto itself? In a pretty right place, as a matter of fact. This score by Marty Stuart, Kirstin Wilkinson and Larry Paxton, which was nominated for a Golden Globe, is an idiosyncratic collection of pieces which take something of the traditional sound of the cowboy movie and give it a new age twist. The best pieces here have a novel, beautiful mix of Stuart and Paxton's guitars twanged, strummed and plucked over Wilkinson's viola and string arrangements. The latter is more "traditional" film score material while the former makes more of a new game out of it.

If, as the ever trustworthy press notes tell me, All The Pretty Horses is really about a young Texan "defining his maturity", this is a credible soundtrack for it. It's the kind of music that lends itself to storytelling and conversations; evocative without being too intrusive, assured and confident. There's an echoey, loopy feel to the thing as notes and themes repeat and it all circles back to itself (the last three tracks being reprises and a medley).

One of the purposes of the soundtrack album is to act as a souvenir of the film, a record of an experience the moviegoer enjoyed, it is to be hoped. But in this case, the opposite has occurred: I now wish to see this film to find out if it has a story, dialogue and imagery as pretty as those it's music conjures. It'll be hard pressed to do half as well.

By Ben Varkentine

Jan. 3, 2001

Despite the opinions of many critical authorities on film, actor and filmmaker Billy Bob Thornton's adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's best-selling novel is worthy of much more than the public slander it has received. Its exquisite and lush cinematography and assiduous music score by Marty Stuart set the scene for what is one of last year's most accomplished films.

By Dan Kremer

Barry Markowitz's cinematography aids Thornton immeasurably in evoking the sweep and wide-open vistas of the arid Southwest, while country music's Marty Stuart's score captures the rhythms of both sides of the border.

By Pam Grady

The weight of myth sits on nearly every frame of the movie like a 400-pound gorilla. I'm sure if somebody hadn't stepped in, I'd be sitting in that screening room until after Christmas, looking at close-ups of crumpled packets of Pall Malls, and grime-encrusted hands, and broken-in working clothes, and worn-down Western diners, and tin plates of beans and cornbread -- get the idea? Thornton and screenwriter Tally OD on texture. Just about the only authentic element is Marty Stuart's simple, elegaic score, mostly guitar, mandolins, viola and accordions.

By Charles Taylor

With All The Pretty Horses, Marty Stuart, Kristen Wilkinson and Larry Paxton have delivered a western score fit for the new Millennium. Together Stuart, a country star in his own right, and Paxton power this ethnic flavored guitar powered score with the combination of robust and ominous acoustic and bass. The 2000 Golden Globe nominees play with a reverence to the Spanish and Western music and heritage yet keep a sense of urgency that flows throughout the CD. Randy Kerber's piano is another essential element to the tapestry of Pretty Horses. When heard together, these ingredients make for a sumptuous feast of drama and a rich, all but forgotten genre.

With cues like "John Grady's Angel" and "Long Journey Home," the romantic lone feeling of the West is fully realized for a new generation of score fans and will restore the faith of those who pay homage to scores like The Alamo. Horses not only restores a genre in film music but creates its own place as an epic just as the book by Cormac McCarthy has. What prevents this album from being best of breed is the brevity of cues and lack of emotional impact the song "Far Away" (also sung by Stuart) has, and in fact detracts from, the score.

By Vance Brawley

January 2001

It has been a while now since a good western score has come out. And what better a way to begin the new year than with a really good one. Billy Bob Thornton's film based upon the novel by Cormac McCarthy brought us this wonderful score. The odd move made by Billy Bob however was going out and hiring three different country music musicians to score the film, Mary Stuart, Kristin Wilkinson, and Larry Paxton. All three have very respectable records on the country music scene, Stuart even has a Grammy under his belt as a songwriter. All three, however come out as more than quite capable, they crush any premonitions of failure by creating a fresh but highly reminiscent western score perfect for the tragic love story the film is based on. The only complaint for Billy Bob would come in not hiring them sooner, as placing the score to the trailer could have saved the movie, let alone the ears from the god-awful music put to it instead.

The Good

The entire score moves fast. The first ten tracks all go by in less than two minutes a piece, not affecting the quality of one of them at all however. The prominent instrument used here is an acoustic guitar, played mainly by Stuart himself, but also backed by Paxton. There are three main title themes that make up the most hummable portion of the score. Heard best in the beginning, tracks one, two and three, as well as in the end. All the themes carry a very rich, western mix of strings with dominating brass used as the Mexican influence towards the score. The outstanding trumpet motifs are best representative of this. These themes, while quite simplistic, will be enjoyed by all, whether a fan of Westerns or not. The album flows extraordinarily well also. There is one track thrown into the mix, 14 Porque, that is a song with Spanish lyrics that feels somewhat out of place, but with two other tracks written by completely different composers than the before mentioned three, the album never once feels like it rocks from style to style. The original three's work still stands out as the best though. This score is quickly becoming a lasting favorite of mine and could quite easily be for the rest of 2001.

The Bad

With all the greatness the first ten tracks bring, the last 12, while twice as long, don't end the score as monumental as the could have. This is due largely in part to the two pieces written by seperate composers, 15 and 17, as well as the two songs thrown into the middle. The orchestrated pieces by Paxton/Stuart/Wilkinson however are in no way bad, they simply lose the upbeat catch that the beginning so perfectly cast. With an fine ending title piece the score no doubt redeems itself, but the alternate parts may turn off the already western inclined listener. There is also an odd addition of synthesized vocals thrown briefly thrown into the mix. I wouldn't worry about the lag too much though, provided that you can spare more than a few listens to learning the place of these slower pieces.

In The End

Westerns come few and far between now a days in this technological revolving world, however All the Pretty Horses is one of those rare gems. If that alone is not reason enough to quickly grab this score then consider this. By buying this score you will undoubtedly get one of the most stylistic scores to come out this year that will surely grab you with its excellent main titles. You will also then get pulled into its deeper moments and experience what could end up being the best 40 minutes of music you get this year. Any good Western deserves your attention, and All the Pretty Horses is no exception. * * * *


December 25, 2000

Very well photographed by Barry Markowitz, romantically scored in the emotively strong Elmer Bernstein mode by Marty Stuart, All the Pretty Horses is validated by its moral gravity and sensual force.

By David Elliott

Urban Cinefile

May 17, 2001
"What is it about that cowboy spirit that inevitably produces great soundtracks? Head West young man (or is it South?) and grow up with the country-(music).

Not that the music is always country, or even country and western. Morricone didn’t follow that tune; nor does Joe Kraemer with the current, and terrific, The Way Of The Gun score. This soundtrack is closer to rustic roots, but it is quite a treat to have these two neo-western soundtracks released simultaneously. The ‘neo-western’ term I’ve borrowed from Kraemer; and this one seems to evoke a little of every nuance a prefix can add to the West: spaghetti, wild, neo, take your pick.

With Johnny Cash’s son-in-law, and childhood guitar and mandolin prodigy, Marty Stuart in the front saddle, it is a soundtrack providing a smooth but exhilarating ride. Innovative it ain’t; evocative it is.

The ears take in the crisp twangy guitar and mandolin-picked phrases, and a vivid panorama opens up before the mind’s eye. Don’t let the bucolic roots fool you, this music has more style than the urban inanities overflowing on the pop charts.

Varying between ambience and exuberance with cavalier aplomb; Chickin’ pickin’, hot lickin’, boot-scootin’ bluegrass-chewin’ dixie-jiggin’ goodness intertwines seamlessly with romantic strings, piano and accordian.

The individual voice of every instrument is captured in its intricacy by this recording. Plucks, scrapes, twangs, strums, bows and bellows; and even a few songs; match the richness and immensity of the landscape they evoke. It is almost tonal personification. Earth, Nature, The Fates and The Elements brought to life like the dusty haze of a Steinbeck novel or the broad vistas of the entire cinematic tradition of the Western.

When the linear phrases aren’t sparking from Stuart’s guitar, such as in the magnum opus, Malarki Opus In D Major, they provide the perfect galloping rhythm to support the main romantic motifs. You know the deal: one and-a-two; didi-clop didi-clop didi . . .

Complemented with a couple of typically rustic musings from Daniel Lanois; this is a score that is almost impossible to dislike.

Of course such earthy and romantic music of American frontiers is hardly a pioneer for musical frontiers of its own. Rather it is a beautifully constructed, masterfully played, superbly recorded and delightfully easy listening experience that is best enjoyed from a rocking chair on a back porch; and with plenty of time to soak up its luxurious, tonal atmospheres."

By Brad Green


Sally Menke's muscular editing moves things along at a rapid clip, which may or may not reflect Thornton's intention, while Marty Stuart's score is evocative at times, intrusive at others.

By Todd McCarthy

Winston-Salem Journal

Dec. 22, 2000

With the invaluable assistance of cinematographer Barry Markowitz and composer Marty Stuart, director Billy Bob Thornton creates a persuasive portrait of the Old West in his adaptation of All the Pretty Horses.

By Mark Burger

Translated Foreign and Miscellaneous Reviews

If this year continues only in such a way... Billy Bob Thornton's Neo Western receives a adequaten orchestralen, with many guitar Soli interspersed Score of Country legend Marty Stuart. In certain way a type Dimitri Tiomkin in modern garb. A grandiose musical scenery.

The poster for All The Pretty Horses will say that Marty Stuart is the composer of the music. A closer look reveals that he also had two collaborators - Larry Paxton and Kristin Wilkinson. The music is hauntingly beautiful and superbly positioned alongside the sumptuous scenery. These accentuated scenes are the ones likely to stay with you.

All the Pretty Horses stars Matt Damon riding horseback to Mexico in the 1930s to seek his fortune, with Penelope Cruz as his love interest. Well suited to a western, country musician Marty Stuart created orchestral arrangements for his own hillbilly guitar workouts. The theme tune is classic spaghetti western, with martial drums, echoing twangs of guitar, and rousing brass. As Damon heads south of the border, Stuart’s guitar colors the romance and adventure with flamenco melodies, the mariachi song of "Far Away," and tango rhythms on "Strawberry Tango." Most cues are brief and down tempo, yet Stuart shines on the lightning-fast picking and strumming of "Malarki Opus in D Major," which reaches a fever pitch with a crescendo of percussion and rousing trumpet fanfares. Submissions from three top-flight composers, including John Williams, were turned down in favor of the more authentic country twang and hillbilly energy of Stuart’s work. From the evidence, this proved to be a good choice. (David Poole)

A deception the second film of Billy Bob Thornton like director after the brilliant one To the Other Side of the Life, that in its day reported an Oscar to him to the best script, as well as a candidacy like better actor. The music, signed by a group of little frequent authors in the cinematographic composition, surprises by its high level and its capacity to emphasize the images. In fact, this compact one is one of the few aspects that deserve to remember of a production that could have given more of himself. The composition offers an interesting collection of subjects of Latin influence western and, as well as a song interpreted by the own Marty Stuart. The quality of the work has reported to the authors a candidacy to Gold Globes, giving rise in addition to that the director returns to trust them for his following project: Daddy and Them.

Chocolat was one of 2000's unexpected cinematic sensations, while All The Pretty Horses (directed by Billy Bob Thornton and starring Matt Damon) turned out to be one the year's biggest disappointments. Music from the Miramax motion picture Chocolat (Miramax Records/Sony Music Soundtrax/Sony Classical) and music from the motion picture All The Pretty Horses (Miramax Records/Sony Music Soundtrax/Sony Classical) are as different from the movies from which they are derived. Rachel Portman's score for Chocolat ranges from sweet to semisweet to bittersweet, while the score to All The Pretty Horses (co-written by Marty Stuart, Kristin Wilkinson and Larry Paxton), in combination with the contributions from Daniel Lanois and Bill Monroe, is a somewhat Western experience.

Music composed by Marty Stuart. The soundtrack blends perfectly with the movie's cinematography.

BEST MUSICAL SCORES (because I care about these things)
Marty Stuart, All the Pretty Horses - Great Southwestern music.


Grammy Award winning country music star, Marty Stuart, teams up with Academy Award winner, Billy Bob Thornton, for the movie soundtrack for All The Pretty Horses.

The soundtrack features original new music from country star Marty Stuart, who is a three time Grammy winner and has sold millions of records throughout his career.

Country performer Marty Stuart contributes a surprising bonus - a lyrical, fully orchestrated music score that supports the poetic images and robust action with just the right Western and Mexican grace notes. -- Mike Clark

All the Pretty Horses music by Marty Stuart, Kristin Wilkinson and Larry Paxton (Sony Classical). This earnest score tends to charm and disarm. It's not as good as that very best of redneck rhapsodies, Jerry Fielding's seldom heard Junior Bonner, but in its own way, All the Pretty Horses manages to saddle up genuine emotion and listenability. Somewhat akin to Morricone without that maestro's edge, the score evokes a lengthy grand ol' opry with narrative line, sans the nasal whine of lonely campfires. If I may unholster a Peckinpah-ism, it ain't like it used to be, but it'll do.

"ALL the beautiful horses" is completely in the tradition of the classical Western cinema. Einpraegsamer as usual only dusty gun duel is here however in colorful pictures told romantic dear history from the 1940er-Jahren between land lots (matte Damon) and a landowner daughter (Penelope Cruz).

Style-genuinly the music, also it fits completely classically in the Western Style. Wrote these 23 in-usual numbers Marty Stuart, of one of the most popular interpreters and Songwriter within the area of the Country Music. Its work was today already recompenced to with three Grammy Awards - and also the sound TRACK to " ALL the beautiful horses " was already designated for an honor, for golden the Globe in the category Best original Score.

The visual elements and the Mexican-influenced music (by Marty Stuart and Daniel Lanois) work together in All the Pretty Horses to support its themes related to the passing of an era, the virtue of honor and the heartbreak of love.

The exquisite soundtrack produced by Marty Stuart complements the gorgeous visual montage of this film. Markowitz’s photography works well with Stuart’s soundtrack, ranging from haunting mandolin tunes, to fiery Tangos, and Country and Western medleys.

Thornton seems to have successfully translated the book's loving use of the English language into the confines of a motion picture. This is further aided by Marty Stuart's rousing score, calls to mind the Westerns of yesteryear.

The cinematography by Barry Markowitz is excellent, particularly in capturing the scenic beauty of the location shots. The original music by Daniel Lanois and Marty Stuart works perfectly.

The beautiful musical score by Marty Stuart is one of the best I've heard for a cowboy/western movie, and greatly enhances the mood of this bittersweet love story.

This is one of the most hyped films of the year. We haven’t seen it yet, but we know the music is great. Stuart scores his first film and does an excellent job. The sonics on this disc are also first rate. You’ll think you are in a theatre when the sound starts pouring out of your speakers.

You can tell some things are missing, certainly — we get just the beats of many subplots, and only the broadest strokes of the romance between Damon and Cruz (still rendered tenderly). But the lingering feel of these excised bits actually plays into the hands of the movie’s exploration of the more timeless themes of man’s relationship with both nature and himself, and a great, expansive score by Marty Stuart matches the gorgeous vistas captured by cinematographer Barry Markowitz.

The surrounds are only somewhat aggressive, and nice sidewall imaging helps to accentuate the distant acoustics nicely. Marty Stuart's tempered but romantic Latin score sounds very lush, aided by a nice and strong bottom end. This is a solid audio mix that may not be demo material, but compliments the film well.

The sound is extremely important in this picture, and the 5.1 soundtrack delivers. There is natural ambience from beginning to end, with the sounds of galloping horses, thunderstorms, or even quieter moments accented by birds, crickets, and slight echoes. This is a film that invites the viewer not just to look at, but to experience the natural wonder of the West through these character’s eyes, and the soundtrack makes the listening an enveloping experience. Crossovers from front stage to rear stage are smoothly handled, and Marty Stuart’s beautiful score is a real plus, too.

During the first 10 minutes or so of All the Pretty Horses, lovers of the classic American western tradition may find their hearts beginning to palpitate. And with good reason: director Billy Bob Thornton (Sling Blade) and cinematographer Barry Markowitz aim their Panavision cameras high and wide, taking in one big-sky vista after another along Texas border country as Marty Stuart's spare score joins in for the ride.

Surround work is limited but effective when used. Much of the film’s audio highlights come from the score by Marty Stuart. A mix of Spanish influence with country and western, the music is also complete with some very nice subwoofer sweetness.

The film is gorgeously photographed by Barry Markowitz (Sling Blade), although at times the combination of his shots and Marty Stuart's score give the effect of being in the midst of a Marlboro commercial.

Meanwhile over at Miramax headquarters . . .: Mark Gill, president of Miramax Los Angeles, is getting ready to stage the early morning vigil on Tuesday. "The nominations happen at 4:30 in the morning here, so it'll be a long day," he says. Miramax, the best Oscar campaigner of all, has had a spotty year. It's not like Bounce or Scary Movie will be up for any awards. But they definitely expected All the Pretty Horses to get a few nods. The film tanked with critics and the public. "We're also hoping that Marty Stuart, who did the All the Pretty Horses score, gets a nomination. And Rachel Portmanh, who did `Chocolat,' deserves a shot. But there's not much you can do with the score. You just make sure the music gets out there and then hope for the best."

The accompanying soundtrack is jam-packed with beautiful tunes, courtesy of Marty Stuart, Kristin Wilkinson and Larry Paxton, who have effortlessly recreated the mood of the film with laid back melodies evoking hazy sunshine and a Western movie feel. There’s a nod to the likes of Ennio Morricone, with a Mexican twist to the proceedings. Oh, and it’s always great to hear mandolin!

This is sumptuous soundtrack that perfectly captures the film’s ambiance, blending traditional country & western sounds with lush orchestration. Recommended.

A year of love scenes and bitterness from both the father and Rawlins passes by in mere seconds in a montage of images over Marty Stuart's twangy score.

Thornton obtains to fully pick-up the ambientação of the book of McCarthy, even so the sonorous track of Marty Stuart if seems excessively a new version of beaten "the Seven Men and a Destination. .

Third is All the Pretty Horses a wonderfully crafted western that has a "Lonesome Dove" kind of feel to it. Director Billy Bob Thornton gets great performances out Matt Damon, Lucas Black, Henry Thomas and Penélope Cruz. The cinematography by Barry Markowitz is excellent, particularly in capturing the scenic beauty of the location shots. The original music by Daniel Lanois and Marty Stuart is very evocative. Everyone who worked on this film ought to be proud of themselves. Unlike Quills this story has a strong moral foundation.

The movie excels, in the plane of the production, the musicalización of Marty Stuart and the photography of Barry Markowitz.

The beautiful music score recording is absolutely expansive and engrossing, seemingly expanding well beyond the physical boundaries of the sound system. The music occasionally fills the surrounds prominently, and has a rich, satisfying low-end presence. Background effects are placed throughout the listening space, effectively imparting a sense of spaciousness and fully placing the listener into the holosonic soundstage. In addition to the usual sounds of birds, crickets and the like depicting the outdoors, there are also rather interesting renderings of breezes which truly surround you. Voices are essentially nicely recorded, although at times voices have the "close-miked" presence resulting in an overabundance of mid-bass, and on occasion their ambiance seems a little detached from the outdoor settings. There is also a generous preponderance of bass throughout, particularly with the music. The low-end is delivered cleanly and sometimes with extremely deep extension. The .1 LFE figures rather prominently, and is quite a bit more active than many other 5.1 soundtracks. This sound mix, originally created for 8 Channel SDDS, will deliver a wonderful listening experience, with a vast, expansive rendering of the outdoors along with a very fine, well-recorded music score. By Perry Sun

Aided by a bang up script by Ted Tally (Silence of the Lambs) and achingly sweet, lyrically traipsing, simple string music by Marty Stuart, when John tells Alejandra "I'm gonna love you until the day I die", only for her to respond "I believe you", you really DO believe them. That is the sign of great filmmaking, in all its many facets, when dialogue that simple, that earnest, that heartfelt is effectively pulled off without a slice of Velveeta to be found.

Speaking of scoring, Marty Stuart provides some nice music, primarily guitars with an occasional blare of mariachi horns to remind us we're in Mexico.

The sound is extremely important in this picture, and the 5.1 soundtrack delivers. Although many scenes are dialogue-driven, there are some moments that really provide a highly enjoyable sound experience. There is natural ambience from beginning to end, with the sounds of galloping horses, thunderstorms, or even quieter moments accented by birds, crickets, and slight echoes. Surrounds do come in nicely when necessary. Marty Stuart’s score combined with all of this makes for a very enveloping experience.

The music by Marty Stuart, meanwhile, is another surprise. His score, which primarily utilizes guitar and strings, manages to perfectly evoke both intimacy and the epic scope of the material. With several memorable melodies and a strong finale, this soundtrack ranks as one of the best of last year and is also well worth seeking out on Sony Classical's CD.

Thornton moves in for microscopic close-ups of eyes and hands, then back to let that big Texas sky dwarf us, and Marty Stuart's music clomps along with them, an impromptu for the open spaces. In the end, All The Pretty Horses is undone by a storyline that pulls us into places where the movie's emotions haven't travelled. Handsomely made, beautifully scored, carefully accessorized, the film is hollow, like one of those modern, open-ended short stories where you're never sure just what the heck happened: just what a Western should not be.

It was interesting to play "Far Away" from All The Pretty Horses and compare the two speakers. This track is a fairly sparse arrangement with a closely miked vocal by Marty Stuart. The M40Ti has a nice, weighty foundation, and the voice takes on a slightly richer and fuller presentation. The voice becomes just a tad bit chesty, but this is offset with the extra bit of presence that can sound more real to some. The M3Ti is definitely a little lighter, but it’s not lightweight -- the overall balance of this little speaker is still good. What I notice, though, is that the voice is just a wee-bit clearer and better delineated. As well, there is just a tad bit more of that see-through transparency.

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