Lucky Number Slevin [Barnes & Noble Exclusive]
Coming to his first feature-film score after cutting his teeth in electronica, Volkswagen advertisements, and an unclassifiably evocative album titled The Illusionary Movements of Geraldine and Nazu, the composer known as J. Ralph once again puts his versatile musical imagination on display with the soundtrack to Lucky Number Slevin. Paul McGuigan's film features Hollywood glitterati like Josh Hartnett, Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, and Lucy Liu, but J. Ralph's music for this modern film noir deserves equal billing with the onscreen stars. Typical of a (mostly) instrumental film score, the cues here tend to be short, sustaining an air of mystery that persists from first track to last. Orchestral sounds on "Horse Falls" give way to jazzy tones on "I Know This Man" and "Bad Things in Threes," while the austere piano solo of "Meet the Rabbi" (a reference to Ben Kingsley's character) leads to the loungy "Restaurant Date," the girl-group pop of "After Laughter (Comes Tears)," and the funky "Kansas City Shuffle." J. Ralph has an acute ear for musical genres -- one of the most important skills of a film composer -- and the soundscapes of Lucky Number Slevin, whether intended as background or foreground, are impeccably crafted for purposes of suspense, realism, and atmosphere. Even when heard without the film, J. Ralph's music seduces the ear and engages the imagination, just like the best movie music always has.