I was trying to decide if there's such a thing as a prototypical Thomas Newman score. He's the kind of composer who thrives on invention and yet his scores are pretty easy to spot, either because of the plinking background rhythms, the lithe string sound or quirky orchestration. I only mention this as Josh and S.A.M. strikes me as about as close to prototypical as Thomas Newman gets. It encompasses all of those three ingredients at some time or other, but is dominated by tuneful and quite lovely passages, such as Same Wish, Same Weather, Cold Corner and Orchard. There are a few decidedly odd moments, notably the curious noise that opens Is You All a Problem and the strange effects that Newman adds to various other cues. A couple of slightly folksy, rhythmically bouncy numbers, as in Trains or the marimba and woodwind led Bus to Canada complete the mixture.
There is one piece of source music, a country and western instrumental by Bill Bernstein (Newman's long time music editor) and Bob Badami, which flows from the previous cue almost imperceptibly. In the pantheon of Newman scores, Josh and S.A.M. is a solid, but slightly unremarkable effort and given the material (two boys running away from unloving, divorced parents), it could have been very sentimental indeed. However, the gentle moments are wistful rather than maudlin and the funky moments are a good musical mirror for the cheekiness of the two protagonists. It's quite a tricky score to find these days (although Varese's website appear to have it available), so Newman fans are advised to snap up a copy, although the less fanatical would probably be more than content with other, similar, but more memorable better Newman efforts.