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Music from the Movies
by Randall Larson

Suits On The Loose tells of two rebellious teens and their breakout from a desert juvenile detention camp via a van stolen from Mormon missionaries at a highway rest stop. Scrapping their military fatigues for the conservative LDS missionaries’ suit & ties, their guise is so good that police insist upon escorting the escapees directly to New Harmony, the town that's been anxiously awaiting their Mormon missionaries. As the two renegades find themselves embraced by the town's hospitality, they try to map out their escape. The film is a classic type of mistaken-identity/jailbreak comedy-of-errors film (think Nuns on the Run, Sister Act, We’re No Angels, with an LDS spin) from first-time writer-director Rodney Henson and produced by noted Mormon filmmaker Kurt Hale’s Halestorm Entertainment.

The story’s homespun flavor is adeptly captured in Alan Williams’ provocative and catchy up-tempo score. Building from a musical palette derived from modern instrumental country music, Williams provides a perfect modern American musical landscape for Henson’s rural story and its upbeat characters.

The Main Title is fairly dark and somber, synths and snares punctuated by muted timpani, describing as it does Justin (Brandon Beemer) and Cody’s (Orlando Brown) unfortunate incarceration in Southern California’s Mojave Desert. The cue builds slowly with dramatic strums of acoustic guitar and a rising tonality of keyboards, with distant gongs adding an intricate sonic embellishment. The music grows slightly, ending on a resolute statement from acoustic guitar as the teens make up their minds to escape. From here, Suits On The Loose is almost continually in motion. Williams keeps the story’s fast pace propelled through a driving velocity of modern country/western music tinged occasionally with bluegrass, and even a cool Italian Western showdown styled motif for ‘The Sheriff.’ An electric guitar outpaces the initial acoustics that allowed ‘Escape’ to rollick along with determination, giving it a modern and very triumphant climax as the teens make good their escape in the stolen car. The mix of old and new country & western sensibility contrast the rural landscape with the teens’ gen-x attitudes and modern demeanor.

‘The Missionaries’ – that is, Justin & Cody’s imitation of same – are introduced by a neat acoustic guitar and harmonica tune, kind of a feel-good blues riff that gently cooks as the film introduces the boys’ masquerade. The blues tonality continues through the next track, ‘Shall We Pray,’ a cool bluesy/soul riff for electric bass and electric guitar embellished by revving organ tonalities. The tune recurs in ‘Church Meeting,’ setting the clerical environment depicted in the film to a musical tonality which is both homespun and historical. ‘Cowboys’ is a straightforward guitar-fiddle-mandolin tune, very pleasing with a winning melody (it’s nicely reprised in ‘To the Ranch’).

‘The Letter’ is rich in honest poignancy as Williams unveils a tender solo piano melody counterpointed by a sweet, solo violin; the melancholic-tinged ‘Conversation’ carries a similar tonality, very moving and very pretty piano and acoustic guitar over an airy space of reverberated sampled strings. ‘Teaching’ is a slide-guitar solo, while ‘Ox in the Mire’ develops a very catchy riff for country harmonica over guitar.

‘General’s Update’ is a staccato suspense movement derived from the darker music introduced in ‘The Sheriff’ and afterward identified with The General (Charles Napier), the escaped teen’s major adversary. ‘Showdown at the Diner’ echoes a development of the same confrontation motif: harsh guitar fingering over a growing mass of strings and reverbed synth before segueing into the gentle melodies of ‘The Letter/Conversation.’ The motif turns somber and serious, but the gentle romantic melody quickly returns for a pleasing payoff in the following cue, ‘The Kiss.’

The guitar and harmonica of ‘The Missionaries’ is reintroduced in ‘Missionaries Arrive’ and matters are nicely resolved, followed by the clerical comedy of ‘New Missionary,’ which reprises the electric bass & guitar soul of ‘Shall We Pray,’ and the recapitulation of the film’s Main Themes in a rousing contemporary Bluegrass finale.

Demonstrating his everlasting versatility, Alan Williams has provided a thoroughly enjoyable and feel-good soundtrack for a thoroughly enjoyable and feel-good film.

Screen Sounds
by Jeff Hall

Once again Alan Williams shows his versatility, as music for this comedic caper is largely written in the modern Country style, reminiscent of the recent Dukes of Hazzard remake, with much guitar and harmonica driven country rock, though there are some more light and airy Western-styled moments and even a touch of Bluegrass, all performed by multi-instrumentalist Tim May, Larry David on harmonica, Peter Kent on fiddle and the composer himself at the piano. My favourite parts of the score however are the quieter, more sentimental moments featuring Williams's piano, sometimes allied to May's acoustic guitar, with occasional light synths backing. The composer ends the score with a bang, reprising his principal Country Rock, Western and Bluegrass material to provide a rip-roaring finish.