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My Cousin Rachel (Rael Jones)

June 22, 2017


Rael Jones, 2017, Sony Classical
26 tracks, 49:55

Rael Jones has plenty of technical credits to his name, along with many compositions for short films. My Cousin Rachel is not his first feature, but it may just prove to be his brake-out score.

Review by Pete Simons

What is it?

A young Englishman plots revenge against his late cousin’s mysterious, beautiful wife, believing her responsible for his death. But his feelings become complicated as he finds himself falling under the beguiling spell of her charms. The film is directed by Roger Michell (Notting Hill and Changing Lanes); and stars Rachel Weisz. The original score is by Rael Jones, whose main credits so far include orchestrations for Suite Francaise, music editing on Cinderella, Steve Jobs, Pan and additional music for Everest. His composing credits include mostly short films.

What does it sound like? And is it any good?

Dare I say this is a very ‘typical’ soundtrack for this genre – or rather this combination of genres. There’s some romance, some drama and some mystery. It all blends together really well in this string, wind and piano driven score. It doesn’t really remind of anything specific, but it is a rather anonymous sounding score. It follows all the tricks of the trade, and does it really well, but in the end the score does not amount to any more than the sum of its pieces. Jones barely deviates from his core set of instruments and eventually, I must admit, the constant sombre tone begins to drag a bit. At 50 minutes it’s not a particularly long album, but about halfway through I felt I’d heard enough. The second half indeed didn’t offer much more.

So that’s the negative out of the way. It’s still a solid score, please don’t get me wrong. Jones captures the various moods of the score really well, making great use of the relatively small ensemble. It’s a very melodic and harmonic score, with a bit of a ‘classical’ (or ‘European’) feel to it. In fact, harmonically I think it’s a very rich score with some dense harmonies, sometimes crossing over into atonal clusters. These are the moments where the score really comes into its own and lifts itself to that next level.

There are a number of key elements to this soundtrack. One that stands out is a mysterious piano motif that reminds me of Horner’s fluttering piano motifs; best heard right at the start in “Who’s To Blame” and “Signing”. Then there is a bittersweet melody introduced in “Memory of a Happy Day”. It bounces up and down the scales with piano, strings and winds all intertwined. The thriller moments often feature stressed strings. “By the Throat” and “I Will Not Permit It” (as well as others) for example are marked by their high, piercing strings. Also, I’m reminded of a somewhat ‘old fashioned’ strings sound. Perhaps the orchestrations lean towards violas rather violins, I’m not sure, but Jones does manage to give that sound a distinct character.

All in all, whilst My Cousin Rachel feels quite familiar, it is an expertly executed score. I look forward to seeing how Rael Jones’ career progresses from here.

Rating [3/5]


01. Who’s To Blame
02. Memory of a Happy Day
03. Headaches Blind Me
04. By The Throat
05. Clean Up
06. Happy Day
07. Christmas
08. Tisane
09. Signing
10. I Will Not Permit It
11. First Kiss
12. Vine Climb
13. Laying in Bluebells
14. You Belong Here
15. Broken Pearls
16. What I Lack
17. Cliff Path
18. Muggins
19. Hallucinations
20. Laburnum
21. Follow That Horse
22. Enlightenment
23. Gallop To The Coast
24. Who’s To Blame – Reprise
25. Suspicion
26. My Torment

Review (C) 2017 Synchrotones

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