Nebraska is the new film by two-time Academy Award®-nominated director Alexander Payne (The Descendents, Sideways, Election) starring Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb, Stacy Keach and Bob Odenkirk. Featuring a guitar-driven score composed by Mark Orton (Tin Hat) that blends elements of acoustic chamber music, alt country and bluegrass, the music of Nebraska is a character in and of itself. Accordion, dobro, violin and an assortment of antique instruments bring colour and life to the two heroes and the quirky characters they meet on their journey through the heartland. It’s a classic American road trip with a soundtrack that truly breathes Americana. On November 19, Milan Records will be releasing Music From The Motion Picture Nebraska on both CD and digital download. Paste Magazine is streaming the album in full in advance of the album’s release and you can also now stream it via Soundcloud here.
The score also includes great performances by the talented musicians of Tin Hat and provides the first time the three original members have reunited since 2005. Rob Burger (accordion/piano – who in the meantime has been working as a sideman with Lucinda Williams, Iron & Wine, Marianne Faithful, Bill Frisell, Calexico, & Norah Jones among others) has joined with present Tin Hat members Carla Kihlstedt (violin) and multi-instrumentalist Orton as part of the core band for the soundtrack. Additionally, Mickey Raphael (Willie Nelson’s long-time right-hand man) plays harmonica on both the soundtrack album and the iTunes only bonus track, The Green Green Grass of Home. Nebraska is a touching story of a cantankerous father (Bruce Dern) who thinks he’s struck it rich after receiving a sweepstakes letter in the mail and wrangles his son (Will Forte) into taking a road trip to claim the fortune. Shot in black and white across four states, the film tells the stories of family life in the heartland of America.
On Nebraska, Mark Orton said: “I was thrilled to have the opportunity to work with one of my favourite directors in scoring Alexander Payne’s Nebraska. The early working edits of the film featured a cross-section of my work drawn from previous film scores and tracks from my group Tin Hat. We used this as a template for the final score, redrawing many of these compositions to picture and writing new material based on their organic palette: acoustic guitars, stroh-violin, accordion, reed organs, autoharp and bass harmonica. I believe the resulting “acoustica” meshes with the beautifully shot black and white imagery as well as the film’s exploration of age and memory.”
Alexander Payne commented: “Nebraska was the first film where I had no previous idea about the music, other than that it should feel unique and handmade. Music editor Richard Ford – an indispensible part of my team since Election – mentioned that he’d been listening to a group called Tin Hat and to other music by its founder Mark Orton and early into editing we began putting that music to picture. The chemistry was immediate.
“Such a process of utilising found music is normal during post-production but as time went on we grew convinced that this “temporary” music should become permanent. We contacted Mr Orton and together we began both tailoring his existing music to the movie and creating new tracks. The resulting score operates in a very American vernacular, as does the film, but there’s something a little European about its sensibility, too. I just think it’s good, plain, honest and catchy, happy and sad at the same time and its rhythms support the visuals and the story nicely.”
Richard Ford, soundtrack producer/music editor said: “Sometimes when putting music to ﬁlm it just seems to stick – adding a new perspective or unexpected depth to the image – this was the case when I ﬁrst put Mark Orton’s music against the images in Nebraska. As the ﬁlm evolved during the editing process the music took on it’s own role, gently anchoring us in the film’s country and townscapes.
“Getting to work with this wonderful group of musicians performing this melodic and touching score and helping to shape it in Nebraska has been a rare treat.”
Music From The Motion Picture Nebraska is a wonderfully calming and serene soundtrack full of gentle acoustic guitar melodies and soothing violin scores among all the other intricate layers of instruments. This is a soundtrack that, even without accompanying images, conjurs up beautiful images of the American countryside in the summer, under a hazy summer sky. This is a record that allows you to lose yourself completely and let go. It’s simply beautiful.
Music From The Motion Picture Nebraska will be released on November 19 on Milan Records.