The Mystery Of It All

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack CD
Composer: Carter Burwell
Artists: Everton Nelson, Hugh Burns, Adam Goldsmith, Nick Carpenter, Chris Lawrence and Paul Clarvis
Artists on Solo Selections: Townes Van Zandt, Monsters of Folk, Renee’ Fleming, The Four Tops, Joan Baez and Amy Annelle
Varese Sarabande    30206-75368-4
Fox Searchlight
19 tracks
Running Length 45 minutes

The film, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” is a mystery trying to be solved by a mother who lost her daughter to a rapist/murderer. The mother is played by Frances McDormand  with dramatic intensity. Woody Harrelson is the stoic sheriff (subject of the billboards), and Sam Rockwell, as the deputy who sometimes is in over his head. It is a film of deep moods including sorrow, revenge, death and even, deep inside---love. Carter Burwell has written themes for special moments throughout the film. Using guitar music as the basis and a Spanish theme, the interludes go with the action on the screen.  

Beginning with “Mildred Goes To War,” and continuing with seven interludes of less than two minutes each, Burwell sets the theme of the film with a Spanish flavor of guitar in an ominous mood. A touch of Flamenco on the Central Plains, and this goes through “The Deer,” “Fruit Loops,” “Slippers,” “Billboards Are Back,” “Collecting Samples,” “Sorry Welby,” “Countermove” and “Can I Give Up Hope.” There is unrest and discontent in Missouri and the music lets you know that it boils just under the surface. These compositions could be woven together to form a music suite with guitar as the principle instrument.

The artist selections are placed throughout for effect, with “Buckskin Stallion Blues” given two turns, the second with vocal soloist Amy Annelle.” “His Master’s Voice” by the Monsters of Folk, “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (Joan Baez),’ “Walk Away Renee” (The Four Tops) and, with elegance, opera singer Renee Fleming’s “The Last Rose of Summer” complete the opposite side of the music spectrum. Country western on the trail of a murderer and what the rest of the world is doing---living and enjoying it.

Carter Burwell has woven a soundtrack that tells a story in itself. Watch out, I’m coming for you---and passing by what the rest of the world has to offer. It is a musical mix, indeed, of quality. This soundtrack was recorded at Abbey Road Studios, London.

Copyright 2017 Marie Asner