Unshaken – D’angelo
Moonlight – Daniel Lanois
That’s The Way It Is – Daniel Lanois
Mountain Finale – Daniel Lanois
Crash of Worlds – Rocco DeLuca
Cruel World – Willie Nelson
Red – Daniel Lanois
Mountain Hymn – Rhiannon Giddens
Mountain Banjo – Rhiannon Giddens
Table Top – Daniel Lanois
Love Come Back – Daniel Lanois
Oh My Lovely – Daniel Lanois
Cruel World – Josh Homme
Say what you will about Rockstar Games and their obsessively realistic Wild West simulator, there’s no denying that the soundtrack to Red Dead Redemption II was one of the musical highlights last year. Poignant, reflective and perfectly capturing the beauty of its world, Red Dead’s score was ultimately a high point in an otherwise polarizing game.
After its long awaited hiatus, the soundtrack to October’s blockbuster game dropped on Friday and despite managing to capture the vibes of the game perfectly, the repetition of tracks and changed versions of recognisable songs makes it a bit disappointing. The soundtrack itself begins with Unshaken; a poignant track that many will remember from the game for its striking use of choir chords and soulful lyrics. From here, Daniel Lanois takes the reigns for the next few songs, including the instantly recognisable ‘That’s The Way It Is’.
The rest of the soundtrack continues its journey across the Western frontier, with Willie Nelson’s ‘Cruel World’ and ‘Table Top’ standing out as personal favourites. The latter minor key guitar solo does so well to capture that faint whisper of hope while tinged with regret and danger the game did so well to grasp throughout its lengthy run time. There’s slight hints of The Last Of Us here but the distinct Western vibes, with accompanying banjos and soulful lyrics nestled around it, do well to keep the soundtrack rooted to its rigid structure.
Clocking in at a little under 45 minutes, the album itself is a fleeting experience at best and a little disappointing too if I’m honest, especially given the wait. The slightly reworked versions of songs from the game and other motifs repeated throughout the album by different artists prevents the soundtrack from really feeling distinct and unique. I can’t help but feel a lot of this could have been alleviated with the inclusion of other songs from the game; a few instrumental breaks to really help elevate the themes of the game that made the narrative so memorable.
Those looking to take a trip down memory lane and really revel in the memory of Red Dead Redemption II will be left a little disappointed by this effort. The soundtrack does beautifully personify the high points of each chapter and the compositions themselves are certainly strong. There’s no doubting that the musical score of the game was one of the highlights last year and if I’m honest, it’s one thing Rockstar Games consistently gets right with their titles. If you can accept this soundtrack may not be the best companion piece to the game then you’re sure to enjoy this but everyone else looking for a comprehensive musical score to honour Red Dead II will not find it here.
Verdict - 7/10