It’s nice when the full tone and direction of a soundtrack/score album hits you in the opening track. Towards the end of the almost entirely instrumental “Granny Diner” a small voice interrupts the thought process of the listener with the soft, yet troubling inquiry, “Why don’t you do any dishes?” It’s a surprisingly striking moment, considering what a simple question it is and how pleasantly musically it is asked. This is the musical world that album producers Richard Glasser and Brian McNelis have created for their listeners and the musical world that fans of the difficult-yet-moving film Blue Valentine (for which the film’s two stars Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams have been nominated for numerous awards) most likely expected, considering that all but three of the tracks are supplied by folk rock band Grizzly Bear. Writer/Director Derek Cianfrance says of the Brooklyn-based band, “I found their music had classic roots yet it was extremely modern.” This sums up not only the band but their work on this impressive hour-long album. Cianfrance also describes their music as “cinematic” and I can’t think of a better word. Every track begs for an image… but the best part about the album is that it doesn’t have to be an image from the movie the music is from. In fact, the music seems to allow for the superimposition of any visual sequence the listener desires. The five-track long instrumental portion of the album (beginning with “Lullabye” and ending with “Dory”) is the best part of the album, allowing the mind to wander to various depths and heights, following the trajectory of the music. Those who enjoyed the film will particularly appreciate the inclusion of Ryan Gosling singing “You Always Hurt The Ones You Love” with ukulele accompaniment as well as the Penny & the Quarters track “You and Me.” Basically, this is an all-around enjoyable album that manages to make the perfect balance between score and soundtrack.

Zach’s Rating: A
Perfect For: Blue Valentine fans (obviously) and those who enjoy a mellow score/soundtrack
Stay Away if: You want more composition-laced scores
To purchase the soundtrack to Blue Valentine, visit Amazon

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