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Mark Orton: Nebraska (2013)

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Mark Orton: Nebraska How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Even without seeing director Alexander Payne's critically acclaimed motion picture Nebraska, the soundtrack evokes a sense of poignant storytelling, motion, and depth. Multi-instrumentalist and film scorer Mark Orton vividly captures the essence of the film's story about a belligerent old man—performed by Bruce Dern who earned "Best Actor" for the role at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival—who is relentlessly determined to collect, in person by the way, the unlikely one million dollar sweepstakes prize he is convinced he's won.

Orton who has written scores for films and documentaries works in familiar musical territory here and includes performances with his San Francisco based acoustic chamber music group Tin Hat Trio. The guitar-driven score takes the viewer or listener along for the ride through passages of quaint small-town folksiness to widespread landscapes decorated with the subtleties of bluegrass music in "Guitar Twenty Eight" or heart tugging melodies in "Immigration" as the tranquil glow of accordion, violin, and trumpet, and banjo cast either shadowy tones or bright hues to the film's black and white cinematography.

While the score's mid-western persona is indeed adventurous and rustic it also evokes more than the heartland of Americana with scenes imbued with unique temperaments in the haunting "To The Levee" and "The Ambush" with its slight Aussie guitar/violin theme or the weighty piano theme in "The Old House." Evocative, humorous, and at times downright touching, the music gives depth to Nebraska's complexities and humanness.

Track Listing: Their Pie; New West; Herbert's Story; Gossip / Brownie's Pie; To The Levee; Magna Carta (Bernie Bowen Version); Bill; Diminished Capacity; The Old Compressor / Escape; The Ambush; Seaone; Night of the Skeptic; Guitar Twenty Eight; Immigration; Magna Carta; The Old House; Their Pie (Hawthorne Version.)

Personnel: Mark Orton: composer; guitars, keyboards, percussion, reed organ, autoharp, and bass harmonica; Mickey Raphael: harmonica; Ara Anderson: trumpet; Rob Burger: accordion; Ben Goldberg: clarinet; James Gregg: trumpet; Carla Kihlstedt: violin; Megan Orton: violin; Brian Pezzone: piano; Joshua Segal: clarinet.

Record Label: Milan Records


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