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Composer Rob Simonsen (The Age of Adaline, Burnt, FoxCatcher, NERVE and The Spectacular Now) continues to show impressive versatility in his musical works with an original motion picture soundtrack of the dramatic film, Gifted.

Music Review: Rob Simonsen – ‘Gifted – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack’

Gifted - Original Motion Picture SoundtrackComposer Rob Simonsen (The Age of Adaline, Burnt, FoxCatcher, NERVE and The Spectacular Now) continues to show impressive versatility in his musical works with an original motion picture soundtrack of the dramatic film, Gifted. This satisfying collection contains 25 tracks for a total running time of just over 47 minutes. (Note: Did not see the movie before reviewing this score.)

Set in Florida, Gifted stars Chris Evans as Frank Adler, a single man raising his seven-year-old niece Mary, played by Mckenna Grace (TV’s Once Upon A Time, Fuller House), who is a child math prodigy. This drama also stars Lindsay Duncan as Frank’s mother Evelyn, Jenny Slate as Mary’s teacher Bonnie, and Octavia Spencer as Roberta, Frank and Mary’s landlady and best friend. The best intentions for Mary’s well-being become a power struggle to nurture and protect her promising future. Marc Webb (The Amazing Spider-Man) directed this film.

Simonsen’s original music on Lakeshore Records’ Gifted musical score begins with the third-longest track “School / Early Morning” featuring piano and keyboards, which often matches the associative instruments of most prodigies. The composer is Timothy Seth Avett, who Simonsen takes under his wing, much like his apprenticeship with composer Mychael Danna – Simonsen and Danna teamed up for the musical score to Webb’s film (500) Days of Summer. Four years ago, Simonsen also co-founded The Echo Society, a collective that provides a platform for composers to experiment and create for live performances around Los Angeles.

This first track is followed by the character-themed “Mary’s Theme.” It’s the longest and most satisfying track. The third number, “The Test,” was featured as a pre-release sample before this soundtrack’s official release and reflects a sombering, yet potent tone, which is followed by “School Projects,” which emits great emotion and then ends with a surprisingly haunting movement.

“Sneaking,” the seventh track, features driving metallic percussion and toms, which could have easily been built into more movements, but Simonsen regulates this work to a 1:19 long running time.

“Genius,” the 12th track, is another highlight full of great piano pieces and string movements. “Mother & Son” begins a segment of the soundtrack filled with longer works that’s followed by the heartwarming “When You Were Born.” This tune is easily the most replayable work. Then Simonsen follows it with “Grandmother,” which features blasting organs that permeate a macabre-like emotional tension.

“Pretty Bird” is a stellar song in country/bluegrass style with great violin and acoustic string work that reminded me of Tan Dun’s Hero musical score. Crooked Still covers this Hazel Dickens song at 3:51 long and was taken from their 2011 Friends of Fall album.

I cannot make you no promise
Love is such a delicate thing
Fly away little pretty bird
For he’d only clip your wings

Crooked Still’s unique work matches well with Simonsen’s various mixes in tones and resulting emotions. Final track “Gifted” contains several speed changes, which acts as a retrospective of sorts for this recommended soundtrack.

Complete track list:

1. “School / Early Morning” by Timothy Seth Avett (2:54)
2. “Mary’s Theme” (2:00)
3. “The Test” (3:32)
4. “School Projects” (0:57)
5. “Evelyn” (0:48)
6. “Sunset” (2:32)
7. “Sneaking” (1:19)
8. “Rules” (1:07)
9. “Boston” (0:45)
10. “Family History” (1:49)
11. “A Nice Night” (0:59)
12. “Genius” (1:10)
13. “Father vs Uncle” (1:10)
14. “Mother & Son” (2:15)
15. “When You Were Born” (2:37)
17. “Diane’s Brother” (3:02)
18. “Pretty Bird” by Crooked Still (3:51)
19. “I’m a Hero” (1:05)
20. “Acceptance” (1:28)
21. “Fred” (2:04)
22. “I Made a Mistake” (1:53)
23. “Your Daughter Needs You” (1:28)
24. “Diane’s Gift” (1:28)
25. “Gifted” (2:21)

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