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Soundtrack Review

Cover Image

Original Television Soundtrack


Composer: Blair Mowat
Label: Silva Screen Records
RRP: £13.99
SILED1722 (download)
Release Date: 17 March 2023

Silva Screen Records digitally release Blair Mowat’s soundtrack to ITV’s 3-part drama series Nolly. Nolly is a warm tribute to British television in the late '70s and early '80s. Noele Gordon was the star and matriarch of Crossroads - soap opera that ran from the 1960s through to the end of the Eighties. The series explores Gordon's all-powerful reign, and fall from grace, starting at the twilight of her career...

Blair Mowat delivers an unexpected score for the 3-part biographical TV series, Nolly. It's quirky, upbeat and one that leaves a positive lasting impression. The score consists of 26 tracks (48 min, 51 sec) and if I had one very slight quibble... It's that the main theme is overused a little, to the point where it feels like a bit of a crutch to lean back on.

Talking about the score, Mowat explains: "It's a period piece and so it felt quite fitting to take on elements of musical theatre or the lush orchestral style of classic Hollywood. Tracks such as 'The Prime Minister' or 'Visiting Larry' deliberately evoke a bygone era… Percussion is perhaps our most important instrument throughout. Russell [writer/creator Russell T Davies] writes so musically and his scripts have a real sense of rhythm to them. Therefore, maintaining a sense of drive and momentum for certain moments is crucial. Peter's [director Peter Hoar] stylistic directing approach meant the score could have quite a lot of variation and oddness without feeling out of place. Drum kits and shakers are often combined with banjo, tuba, saxophone, jazz flute and soft vibes. You'll find samba piano rhythms, Venetian violin solos and full swing bands juxtaposed by a lush 40-piece string orchestra - yet somehow it all hangs together through the use of musical themes and variations. That ostinato which pulls and clashes either side of Eb Major keeps us grounded throughout the journey of the score, no matter what style or instrumentation we find ourselves in."

It's not all quirky music though, 'The QE2' has an almost Bond-esque (John Barry era) quality to it. There are plenty of wonderfully melancholic themes that will hit you on an emotional level. 'The Reason', for example is a slow, beautifully structured piece that slowly builds before petering out. The last few tracks are all designed to trigger a powerful emotional response in the listener and Mowat weaves his magic in manipulating our senses. 'Looking Back on Life' illustrates just how much of a fine art he's got this down to.

Overall, an impressive collection of themes and set pieces that will arouse many an emotional response in the listener.


Darren Rea