John Powell has done it again. With Solo: A Star Wars Story we have been treated to some of the best music he has ever composed, as well as one of the best Star Wars scores ever made.
When I first heard that John Powell was going to score this movie, I was initially skeptical having never personally listened to any of his music. With that in mind though I had a look around and quickly found one of his popular scores; How To Train Your Dragon. Listening to this score alone convinced me that not only was Powell the man for the Star Wars job, but that it would be an absolutely amazing album. Couple that with the fact that John Williams himself was doing Han Solo’s main theme, and you could colour me seriously excited.
Let’s start with that, then. The Adventures Of Han is the first track on this album, and it is an absolute joy to listen to. Williams has clearly done a lot of work to get this theme just right, and it shows. There are hints of Rey’s theme in here as well as a couple of notes from Kylo Ren’s, and even some small nods to Indiana Jones. The result of all these is an upbeat, adventurous theme for Solo that fits very well with the character. The only negative thing I will say about Williams’ rendition here is that it is good, but Powell just does it better, as you will see as I review the next few tracks.
Meet Han is the first of John Powell tracks, and it has a soft and mysterious start. After a few seconds however it picks up into an epic orchestral rendition of Williams’ Han Solo theme, and already you can tell that this score is in safe hands. Powell’s amazing musical style is here in all its glory, and this is only the beginning.
Corellia Chase is essentially John Powell’s version of the main Han Solo theme, and if I am honest it is a far better one than Williams’. Powell’s use of brass and percussion is done in such a way that this track makes far better use of the main theme and boosts it up to a much more dramatic and epic level. Here the theme just soars, in a similar manner to the more fantastic elements of Powell’s How To Train Your Dragon score.
For the first time ever, Chewbacca has his own theme in a Star Wars movie in Flying With Chewie. It isn’t quite as amazing as Han Solo’s, but to be honest it shouldn’t be anyway. The theme stands out well on its own, and is similar to Han’s in its heroic and adventurous nature. After we hear this we are treated again to a rendition of Han’s theme, and hearing the two themes together is something special all on its own.
Now Marauders Arrive is a very interesting track. This is presumably the villain theme of the score, and it sounds very…different. When I first heard it I must admit I did a double take. Here Powell uses brass in combination with choral chanting that doesn’t sound dissimilar to James Horner’s Avatar in a few places. It is certainly a very memorable villain theme as it is just so unexpected but so fantastic because of that. Definitely a villain theme I will remember for a while.
Break Out begins the saga of action cues for this score. If there is one thing that John Powell can do extremely well it is action cues, so needless to say I was excited for them for this score. And boy, does Powell deliver. In this cue alone we have some amazing use of brass and percussion to deliver another brilliant rendition of the Han Solo theme, as well as some surprise cameos from elements of Han And The Princess from Empire Strikes Back and the rebellion theme from A New Hope.
The award for the standout cue on this album goes to Reminiscence Therapy. You just know you are in for a treat immediately as the track begins with the Death Star theme followed by a pretty amazing combination of the new Han Solo theme and Asteroid Field from Empire Strikes Back. And this is just the beginning. The combination starts off a fast pace that continues right into what I think is the best rendition ever of Tie Fighter Attack before diving head first into the best part of Asteroid Field (you know which bit I’m taking about). All in Reminiscence Therapy is six minutes of hopping from one awesome Star Wars cue to another while weaving the Han Solo theme perfectly in between.It is absolutely fantastic. Into The Maw continues the action for a little while before concluding it in a frankly beautiful rendition of the classic Star Wars theme.
To close out the score Powell decides to treat us one last time in Dice & Roll, with one last but epic rendition of Williams’ simply amazing and now well fleshed out Han Solo theme. It is a fantastic track to end an album that has been a rollercoaster of mind-blowing music. Overall I would say that Solo: A Star Wars Story honestly is one of the best Star Wars scores ever made, as it seamlessly blends Williams’ classic Star Wars music with some amazing new creations by Powell and of course the brand new Han Solo theme that fans have wanted for such a long time.
In conclusion, Solo: A Star Wars Story is the perfect Star Wars score that fans have been waiting for.
Standout Cue: 15. Reminiscence Therapy