|2.||Not My Type||2:29|
|6.||Plain Denim Dress||2:25|
|13.||La Puta Del Diablo||1:26|
| ||34:30| Submit your review
In my review of The Emperor's Club, I chastised James Newton Howard for aping Thomas Newman's style too closely, but it did at least have the benefit of successful melody and a sense of movement and purpose. Road to Perdition aside, Thomas Newman's output of late has been disappointing simply because he seems happier with sound design than composing. He is a dramatically astute and inventive composer, but that doesn't always make the result interesting on disc. While White Oleander isn't exactly a return to form, it is considerably more accessible than many of his recent efforts.
Newman scores invariably start well and White Oleander is no exception; Oleander Time is a prototypical piano theme on a wash of synths that recalls the sublime titular track from American Beauty. However, as is so often the case, Newman doesn't really build on the opening gambit and the music sinks into a kind of musical trance that is admittedly quite fetching, but would be difficult to class as good music. If you wanted something to plug into while in an isolation tank, this would be a top choice. The opening theme recurs on a couple of occasions, notably during La Puta Del Diablo, but Newman scores aren't really theme led in the traditional sense and this is no exception. Each track seems to pass by almost like every other, with a couple of side steps for light synthetic percussion backing for Not My Type, Claire and Uncle Ray. They do seem to be strategically placed to break up the otherwise soporific mood.
As suggested above, Thomas Newman style scores are all the rage and no quasi serious drama seems to be complete without one. It's a pleasing change from third generation Elmer Bernstein knock offs - nobody does it better than Bernstein and those who do, invariably do it badly. A Newman musical landscape is invariably quite pleasing and a few composers have been quite successful, Ed Shearmur's K-Pax a notable example of mixing Newman's style with a modern dance/trance feel. White Oleander is by no means a total failure and it's sublime mood setter; music has often tried to convey colour (perhaps a slightly fruitless and existential exercise, although Michael Torke has made a very successful career out of it), but if Thomas Newman wanted to convey white in music in terms of its calm purity, then White Oleander is a success.
Other releases of White Oleander (2002):