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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Soul Soundtrack Review
by Richard Jack Smith

Admittedly, I didn't enjoy Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ score for Mank. There was some common dissonance, a little swing and various nods to Bernard Herrmann. Rinse and repeat. But it allowed the composers to step outside their comfort zone. So how does Soul fare?

Immediately, Jon Batiste plugs into the jazz beat with catchy and soulful melodies from the street. Meanwhile, in the “The Great Beyond,” Reznor and Ross don’t offer anything in that style whatsoever. The constant hum in their music reminded me of science-fiction, similar to the chunky ambience which Cliff Martinez has become known for. But that’s where such aspirations conclude. Any depth or variation was simply lost.

Other than trying to push an odd Thomas Newman/Vangelis hybrid, Reznor and Ross miss the point entirely. About the only time they depart from their anonymous style can be heard in “Pursuit/Terry’s World.” However, it doesn’t take long -- a mere 47 seconds -- before the space age humming resumes. Elsewhere, Batiste establishes a groove with “Fruit of the Vine” and this embodies good storytelling. He establishes tone and theme, builds to a progressive middle section and pays off with a worthy crescendo. Another fine example includes “Space Maker,” which features confident, wild runs on saxophone reminiscent of the legendary Charlie Parker.

Moving on, dated anonymous tones make up “Terry Time” and the majority of this underscore. The sounds are barely perceptible, even with headphones. As such, the material by Reznor and Ross (not Batiste) lacks ambition or drive. When I first heard about their involvement, I was intrigued. It was my wish that the composers should do well. Alas.

Verily, Soul should be rated twice. Firstly for the contributions of Reznor and Ross, then for the jazz accompaniments from Batiste.


Music by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross: 1 out of 5 stars

Music by Jon Batiste: 3 out of 5 stars.

A poem to close:

Have these composers got the Soul

And abilities to score that winning goal?

One among them might.

Guess it’s time for jazz night.


From the Oscar winning duo, we have a drone.

If ever a story came up, throw them a bone.

Yet it takes more than haze

To stun and amaze.


88 keys proving the kicker

The garden variety picker.

Little more than juice for the fan.

Gas swiftly departed from can.


Jon Batiste, a true artistic Soul

Was the ace in the hole.

The jazz material was regular

Brewed to make one feel irregular.


Spirits might dash

The opportunist after easy cash.

Better get packing

As the experience was lacking.


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