Artist: Taylor Davis
Album: Legendary Movie Music
With her two earliest gaming–related releases now in our archive, it makes sense that I’d move onto Taylor Davis’ third cover album, relating to movie music as opposed to games for a change. This album introduces some strong backing arrangements alongside the violin, with the piano accompaniment now missing for the most part. However, the song selection remains excellent, offering a lot of favorites from a lot of classic movies.
Listen along on Spotify, or check out some of the music videos:
Bravo once again, Mrs. Davis, you picked one of my favorite themes from any movie to start off with. I like to believe that, whether you like the Pirates of the Caribbean series or not, it’s undeniable that “He’s a Pirate” is a great song. Hans Zimmer is one of my favorite composers, so it’s no surprise that I adore the first three PotC soundtracks. Particularly, this song hosts a great deal of the lively fun that the first movie was so well known for. The musical arrangements are used to good effect to back up the violin without overwhelming it. Also, I really love her outfit in the video…
The Harry Potter series was another safe bet to pleasing me, as I’m a big old fantasy geek. I wasn’t aware, before listening to through this again, that the song was called “Hedwig’s Theme” – I had actually thought that this was a medley of a few songs from the HP series (including the theme song), or that some serious liberties had been taken, until I paid a little more attention. This was a nice choice as such, as it has a lot of the things I like in John Williams’ music for this movie, and the arrangements and backing parts have added a fresh dynamic to it.
While I’ve never paid much attention to the Gladiator soundtrack, many other fans of music scores that I know are huge fans of it, and as I said, I do love Hans Zimmer, so this has been on my list of music to try out for ages. I haven’t yet mentioned how impressed I am with the clean sound Davis manages to get into her vibrato (it’s not as easy as it might seem), and the backing music again adds something nice to the music without taking the spotlight. The percussion is particularly nice in this, as well as the hint of simulated choir.
Next up is again what I consider to be an incredible choice – “Lux Aeterna” is, in my opinion, one of perhaps the creepiest, most powerful score songs ever written. I actually chose not to watch Requiem for a Dream because this song was so disturbing that I thought, mixed with the intense context of the movie, it might actually overwhelm me. The gentle marching intro to this works as an interesting new take on the song, and though some might find the electronic drums to be a bit odd, I actually like the way they work very crisply into the mix. As well, the big violin kickoff towards the end is really cool!
The main theme from Titanic gets a great deal of crap from people (everyone is so divided on whether they love or hate that movie, it seems), but this song is, regardless of your feelings on it, an iconic track. I actually really enjoy this song as it is translated to the violin, because I find the vibe very similar to Canadian (I think) folk violin songs like “Sheguinda Bay” and “Ashokan Farewell.” As well, if you lose the cheesy lyrics, this song becomes rather pretty as an instrumental. I’ll label this track an improvement on the original!
We get another John Williams classic next with “Duel of the Fates” from the original Star Wars trilogy. This is actually one of the SW songs that I don’t recognize immediately, though it certainly sounds like John Williams. I enjoy Davis’ embellishments, though this song doesn’t hit as hard as the few that I recognize do. The “Jurassic Park Theme”, however, is another that I didn’t know beforehand but ended up being quite popular with me after hearing it here. It’s a very heroic song and the violin line is strong, particularly when she doubles up the notes toward the end as the backing music builds up.
The “James Bond Theme” came as no surprise to me, as the Goldeneye 64 game is almost as big of a classic as the Bond movies themselves, and I trust in Davis’ good taste as a gamer geek. The use of violin and the style of the backing music has an almost ‘classy cocktail bar’ vibe to it at times, which I find very appropriate with Bond music, considering who James Bond is and what he’s known for. In a similar vein, you can’t do an album called Legendary Movie Music and include the “James Bond Theme” but not the “Mission Impossible Theme”, so naturally that comes next and Davis continues to live up to the high standards she has set so far, though I have to say that this one relies a bit more on the backing arrangements than perhaps it should.
The track from Braveheart is another unfamiliar one for me, having only seen that movie once, many years ago. With the historical Scottish background, it’s a shame the original didn’t have a more Scottish feel, but the violin does add a bit of that back in towards the end, which I like. However, if we’re really talking about songs that suit the violin, “Concerning Hobbits” from Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was originally a violin song on the soundtrack, so this is a natural song selection, and beautifully done, if I may say so. This song has many delicate little bits that really feel like the Shire, and Davis nails them all without ever going too nuts with the added parts.
The album then closes up with the “Raider’s March” from Indiana Jones, which is a cool song and a classic. Of all the songs on this album, this one perhaps sounds the oddest translated to the violin. I can’t say exactly what I find odd about this – perhaps the original was such a slightly military-sounding march with its crisp, sharp trumpet, while the violin is deeper and more muted. The violin seems to have less pep somehow. I’m not sure if it quite suits the original, but it’s still a nice version.
Overall, we have yet another excellent selection of songs that have been covered very well. My only regret is that this album is lacking the theme from Last of the Mohicans, which Davis covered sometime in 2012, I believe. It’s a great song that works incredibly well on the violin and would’ve been an excellent addition to this album. I might have included it over the “Raider’s March” or even “Duel of the Fates”, but this nevertheless is just as strong an album as the anime and game song collections she has done so far.
Rating: 9/10, 4.5 stars.
01. He’s a Pirate
02. Hedwig’s Theme
03. Now We are Free
04. Lux Aeterna
05. My Heart Will Go On
06. Duel of the Fates
07. Jurassic Park Theme
08. James Bond Theme
09. Mission Impossible Theme
10. For the Love of a Princess
11. Concerning Hobbits
12. Raider’s March
Text: Amy Wiseman