Music By Mark Orton
17 Tracks/Disc Time: 43:56
"Nebraska" was the sleeper surprise of 2013 which directed by Oscar winning Writer/Director Alexander Payne and went on to receive six Oscar nominations for himself writer Bob Nelson and actors Bruce Dern and June Squibb as well as a Best Picture nomination. The film revolves around an aging, booze-addled father named Woody Grant (Dern) makes the trip from Montana to Nebraska with his estranged son, David (Will Forte, "Saturday Night Live") in order to claim a million-dollar Mega Sweepstakes Marketing prize. With that hanging over his head and old personal scores to settle, Woody soon learns to reconnect with both David and his wife, Kate (Squibb) in a beautiful looking film which was gorgeously shot by Phedon Papamichael ("Phenomenon").
While Alexander Payne has always put music on the fore front of his films, he has always maintained a solid relationship with composer Rolfe Kent up until his most recent films such as the Oscar winning, "The Descendants" which employed a more traditional Hawaiian pre-recorded song approach and now this film, which required a more relaxed Pat Metheny like approach to the film. Tempting the film with the work of group called "Tin Hat", Payne contacted the group's founder, Mark Orton to write the score for this film. The results were a pleasant surprise because the score is very much in tune to the Orton's work with his group and surprisingly very effective in matching both Payne's direction, but also Papamichael's cinematography.
The music is a very pleasant atmosphere of Americana that oozes Mid-western life, but also the people that inhabit this world through the use of guitars, trumpet and a solo violin. "Their Pie" opens the album to a great start in this very fashion for example, while the track "Gossip / Brownie's Pie" introduces a wonderful accordion solo by Rob Burger that is very much in keeping with the solid opening track. Orton underscores the film's road trip with varied layers of atmosphere while maintaining the wonderful material established in the opening track. Track such as "To The Levee", "The Old Compressor / Escape", "The Ambush", "Immigration", and "The Old House" feature tender moments of subtle and passionate orchestration from Orton as he personally identifies with each character as well as the situation and places they are passing through with each solo instrument from the violin to the piano to the acoustic guitar giving some type of musical warmth to rather uncheerful lives as well as the world they inhabit. "Their Pie (Hawthrone Version)" ends the album and score on a positive note with a reprise of the main theme. The album also features two other performances by Tin Hat that include "Bill" and "Night Of The Skeptic" aside from the brilliant, "New West", which is very Pat Metheny inspired and features a great trumpet solo.
Milan's album is a very solid effort by the label and one that jazz fans of Pat Metheny, Stephane Grappelli, Regina Carter, Jim Hall and Django Reinhardt would really enjoy. Also, in thinking about it you can throw in Carter Burwell's touch as well because I think he would've scored this film in a similar fashion if given the chance. This is a well executed album that works for fans of this style of music as well as fans of the film itself. "Nebraska" is tender and effective listen that is as solid as the film is. Strong positive thumbs up.