The soundtrack comes from the movie August Rush, a fairytale-like story about an orphan boy following the music within his heart to find his parents. The music is amazing, creating a wonderful and magic atmosphere for the movie. Along with describing the actual songs in the order from the CD and not the one in which they have been in the film, I am connecting them to a certain part of the movie in some cases, as you can't listen to them without bits and pieces from the movie coming back to mind.
Freddie Highmore - Evan Taylor/"August Rush"
Keri Russell - Lyla Novacek
Jonathan Rhys Meyers - Louis Connelly
Robin Williams - Maxxwell "Wizard" Wallace
1. Mark Mangina - Main Title: The first song from this soundtrack is really soft, providing a gentle, sweet and orchestral background for Freddie Highmore - the main character and narrator's tale-telling. It represents the premise of the movie, the very beginning of his quest for his parents.
2. Steve Erdody & Jonathan Rhys Meyers - Bach/Break: This second song begins at a faster pace, varying from classical music, like the Prelude from Bach's 3rd Partita, to its more modern rock adaptation, featuring the talented Jonathan Rhys Meyers on vocals. The lyrics talk about having lost someone and doing everything that is in your power in order to find that beloved person by finding yourself in the first place.
3. Jonathan Rhys Meyers - Moondance: This is a recurring song throughout the movie, as it had been the melody Lyla and Louis heard the first night they met. Robin Williams's character was the one wandering in the park, playing it at the harmonica at the crack of dawn. Louis has a bittersweet recollection of it and creates a harmonica - acoustic guitar duet, reminding him of the romantic night he'd had with Lyla. The lyrics themselves make an invitation for a dance in the moonlight, with a jazzy, bluesy feel to the mysterious tune, creating the perfect atmosphere for a night of passion and romance.
4. Jonathan Rhys Meyers - This Time: This ballad played on the acoustic guitar evokes Louis' regret for not being together with his beloved anymore, yet trying to reach her in a subtle way. He can't find a meaning in his life without her, everything keeps her at the back of his mind all the time. He wonders how things would have turned out if he had made other decisions in the past, if her memory would still be haunting him. Although the song sounds mellow at the beginning, with Jonathan singing in a sweet, higher pitched voice, sometimes almost whispering, with every verse it grows in intensity, melody and tone-wise. Towards the ending the acoustic guitar is backed up by a string orchestra, everything magically fading at the last verse.
5. Kaki King - Bari Improv: This echoing, haunting fast song is practically the unveiling of August's skills, how resemblant to Mozart he is judging by the quick way he learns things, or they just come to him, flowing, by the quirky, yet in tune and melodic improvisations he does when given the chance to play the guitar.
6. Kaki King - Ritual Dance: The guitar drifting made by prodigy star Kaki King is fantastic, having funky, tribal rhythms. It is an amazing, alert song, going from a steady beat to a folkish sound, moving on to alternative and growing in terms of power and the velocity at which the chords are being played, ending in a mind-warping manner.
7. Jamia Simone Nash & Impact Repertory Theatre - Raise It Up: This song was nominated at the Academy Awards for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, as an Original Song by Jamal Joseph, Charles Mack and Tevin Thomas. Sadly it lost to Falling Slowly, from the movie Once, which is also a great, thought-provoking piece. Raise It Up is sang by an African-American youth theatre group from Harlem and it has the goal of re-instilling hope into August, who had lost his parents, yet he should never give up on looking for them.
8. Heitor Pereira & Doug Smith - Dueling Guitars: Unaware who the other really is, August and Louis happen to meet and share a bit of their knowledge through a so-called guitar duel. At first, they start quite shy and at a slow tempo, repeating the other's note and creating one on their own, they learn from each other not only guitar tricks, but also to have confidence in themselves and in one another. The song unfolds beautifully, in a natural, perfect-flowing way, growing gradually in strength, as the relationship between the two also becomes more powerful, based on reciprocity.
9. Steve Erdody & Jonathan Rhys Meyers - Elgar/Something Inside: Having been described as the closest sounding instrument to the human voice, the cello seems to be mourning in this Edward Elgar intro from the Cello Concerto in E Minor. The ballad is uplifting, it restores faith in love, the lyrics being about two people in love who would eventually find each other, as they can't live without one another.
10. Mark Mangina - August's Rhapsody: In the same way the harmonica from the park is played repeatedly in the minds of Lyla and Louis, so does August keep hearing a song that makes him want to find his parents even more, and inspired by it he transforms it into his masterpiece, the rhapsody from the grand finale. Based on the music he had heard around him, he created a piece with perfectly combined styles of classical musical, involving the whole orchestra in this auditive painting of his initiatic journey. When you would think the song is over, it comes back more powerful and moralizing than ever, it becomes a life lesson.
11. John Legend - Someday: This song represents the aspiration to reaching their goals as a couple, lovers brought back together, facing the problems and surpassing every obstacle together. It signifies the will of a fresh start, a chosen one, which will be exactly what the two soulmates make of it.
12. John Ondrasik - King Of The Earth: This heartwarming, slow song is probably underrated in comparison to the others on this soundtrack, although it is hauntingly beautiful and it literally gets to you, on a slightly depressing tone.
13. Chris Botti & Paula Cole - God Bless The Child: This song adds more instruments to the list of the ones already mentioned, an organ and a trumpet to make the tune more jazzy, with a bit of a gospel and religious influence to it reflected in the lyrics.
14. Leon Thomas III - La Bamba: The hit song La Bamba has been adapted for an acoustic guitar, with a downbeat style. Still latino, but more r n' b and with an a capella touch at the beginning, this version is just as good as Ritchie Valens' original, bringing popular tunes to the modern day beats.
15. Chris Botti - Moondance (Hidden Track): The last song on the CD is the jazz version of the one sang by Jonathan Rhys Meyers. It is only an instrumental track and goes well with the album's Side B, which is at a slower tempo, more melodic and soulful.
Freddie Highmore, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Keri Russell have all learned to play their instruments, for each case, piano/acoustic guitar (Freddie), acoustic/electric guitar (Jonathan) and cello (Keri). They have spent months practicing with teachers how to hit the right chords and tabs, without the actors being the ones to play the instruments in the actual movie. Kaki King was Freddie Highmore's double for the guitar playing parts, no matter if it involved picking, strumming, tapping, drifting, or playing a lap steel guitar.
I have listened to this soundtrack countless times, especially some of the songs, which I find catchy and relaxing, innovative and original at least concerning this specific type of movie. My favorite songs are the main title, Bach/Break, Bari Improv, Ritual Dance, Dueling Guitars and August's Rhapsody and I tend to listen to them in this order. I also find Jonathan a very talented actor and singer who should have also pursued a career in the music industry, quite ironically sharing the destiny of the character he portrays in this movie.
Although the album can be listened to just as it is, without any reference to the movie, I would recommend, in order to better understand the essence of the songs, that you should watch the movie beforehand. If you want to hear a wide array of instruments from the orchestra combined into ballads, great live rock tunes or acoustic sessions, improvisations and jams, you should definitely give this soundtrack a listen!
August Rush is one of the best films out at the moment, here is my review on the sountrack of this fantastic film.
Brief Plot of the Film
Evan Taylor is a orphan, who swears he can hear his mother and father talk to him through music. So when he escapes from the orphanage and goes to New York, he meets Arthur who takes him to the person who feeds and houses him in exchange for some of his tips which he earns via busking.
Here Evan learns of his talent and adopts a new name... August Rush. He begins to play, hoping that his parents will be able to hear him via his music.
1.August Rush (2.20)
This track is pretty much just an insight into the film. I found it pretty weird to have this on a soundtrack, as it's Freddie Highmore talking over a piece of music about the story, however it does work for people who have seen the film as they know what he's talking about and why it's such a special piece. This is more of a classical piece than anything.
This is a composition of two of the leads playing different pieces of music. It starts off with Kerri Russell's character playing Bach, and then Jonathan Rhys Myers and the band 'The Connelly Brothers' go into a rocky piece called Break, but you can still hear the cello being played in the background.
I adored this piece when I watched the movie, but don't think it had the same atmosphere when you listen to it off the soundtrack, especially if you don't know what is actually going on in the story and why they have put two of opposite pieces of music together, to make this fantastic piece of music.
Lyrics: "What is love, and what's it for, I'm stuck outside an open door, and no one's come to get me yet, I've never got a second bet."
3.Moon dance (1.50)
This song is pretty much the base throughout the movie, all the way through you'll here 'Well it's a marvellous night for a moon dance, with the stars up above in your eyes'.
This is just a small piece of someone playing the tune to this song and Jonathan Rhys Myers sings along to it for Kerri Russell's character. Bit of a boring piece to be honest on the album, but it's nice in the film.
4.This Time (4:11)
This has to be my favourite song on the album, you don't really get to see much of this one preformed in the film but I think it's the strongest performance by Jonathan Rhys Myers.
It's such a nice rocky song, which doesn't really sound out of place, but could have pretty much been forgotten when they put the soundtrack together as it's not a very poignant song in the film.
Lyrics: "I've been sitting watching life past from the sidelines, I've been waiting for a dream to seep in through my blinds, I wonder what might happen, if I left this all behind, would the wind be at my back, could I get you off my mind, this time"
5.Bari Improv (1:36)
This is quite a poignant point in the film, but doesn't really have the same feeling when you hear it on the soundtrack that you receive when you're watching it for the first time in the film.
I think its Freddie Highmore's acting in this scene, that also makes you understand how happy he is to be able to show the world what he hears everywhere.
6.Ritual Dance (1:34)
Just a bit more guitar slapping like the Bari Improv, I can't even remember where this bit is in the film.
7.Raise It Up (2:27)
This is where August 'follows' the music into a church and hears this being preformed by the church 'choir'. It stars off with a guy whose got a gorgeous voice, but he is outshone when a little 8/9 year old starts to sing.
Jamia Simone Nash is absolutely fantastic, for such a young girl she manages to capture the magic of this song and sing it beautifully.
Lyrics: "feelin like a motherless child hankered into my soul its bringing me down cant find my smile on a face of a motherless child, im gonna break down these walls gonna give it my all ya know"
8.Duelling Guitars (2:35)
This is a very important piece in the film, and for those of you that have seen it I know you'll agree. It's Freddie Highmore & Jonathan Rhys Myers improvising a piece of music on their guitars and coming up with this together.
Beautiful in the film, doesn't really have the same feeling on the soundtrack.
9.Elgar/Something Inside (4:51)
Going back to the first song like this, they mix in the two lead characters performing to completely different pieces of music, but actually make it work.
Kerri Russell's character is playing Elgar and Jonathan Rhys Myers is singing a song called 'Something Inside'. I had actually forgot about this piece, it's probably one of the weakest pieces in the movie, however I think this is because of the build up up to this song, you are expecting something else to happen and this just was quite a forgettable performance.
10.August's Rhapsody (7:34)
This is the song that August wrote, this is the piece everyone's waiting for and I have to say it's fantastic. The person who composed it managed to bring in the whole aspect of the film into a small piece of music.
Look out for Hope, the little girl singing in one part and the base song that's throughout the whole film Moondance appears in one section of this song and of course August's guitar slapping.
The Other Four Songs
I did start to try and analyse these songs, but in my opinion they have nothing really to do with the film and I don't even remember them being in the film to be honest, but here's a mini analysis.
11.Someday: Nice song that captures the emotion of the film.
12.King Of The Earth: Not much to say about this song, doesn't really seem right in a film like this.
13.La Bamba: This is quite an annoying song, someone screeching their way through a song, making you want to turn over.
14.Moondance: It's quite nice they actually put the original of this song in, as this song and tune was used throughout the whole film.
My Opinion on the album
It's a very good album, for those that have seen the film that is however. It's a strange selection of pop/rock/classical and a bit of gospel music which may seem strange to someone who has no idea of the story behind all of the songs.
However the strange blend of songs, really works in the movie, however in the soundtrack on their own, it just seems like someone has piled together pieces of their favourite music and is listening to them.
Some of the songs however are great and could be released as a single, especially This Time & Bach/Break. They are fantastic pieces. I'm not sure if August's Rhapsody is a piece they took for the movie or if it was composed for the movie itself but it's a really nice piece of music, which rolls all of the music and emotion of the film into an 8 minute piece.
My opinion on the film
What an amazing film. I don't think I've ever seen anything like it before. It didn't have much media coverage like some movies do when they first come out, but we rented it over the weekend and was mesmerised.
As an aspiring film maker, this is the sort of movies I want to make. One's that depend on fantastic music and fantastic story lines to work. In my opinion, music can make or break a film and this film is fantastic not just because of the amazing acting, but the music chose for each individual scene.
Should you go and buy it?
Probably not if you haven't seen the film. If you haven't seen the film, I would recommend that in a second and will assure you, something in that film will touch your soul. It's amazing.
For those of you who loved the film, yes go out and buy the cd, or even just get the videos off youtube. It's a great cd for those who know what it's about. I don't think I've ever seen a film where the music can pretty much tell the story.
For those of you who haven't seen the film
Check out 'This Time' or 'Bari Improv' on youtube, this alone should show you what a fantastic film this is.
I'm attempting to buy this off Ebay at the moment, but the cheapskate that I am, doesn't really want to pay £7 for a movie, when I know two months down the line it'll be selling for £0.99.
You can however rent it from blockbusters or tescodvdrental or any other rental place. Well worth it.
Hope this helped.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 August Rush
4 This Time
5 Bari Improv
6 Ritual Dance
7 Raise It Up
8 Dueling Guitars
9 Elgar/Something Inside
10 August's Rhapsody
12 King Of The Earth
13 God Bless The Child
14 La Bamba