Hold Your Horses
Horse Club Adventures was released for the Nintendo Switch this past summer. The game creates a variety of unique adventures wrapped with a variety of mini-games revealed during play and also features a variety of custom options. Winifred Philips (Jurassic World OPS; Sackboy: A Big Adventure; LittleBigPlanet 3) is on hand to guide the experience with her latest score which has been receiving numerous accolades. Music from the video game was made available for review and there are two smaller folk albums being made available through Apple music. Throughout one hears Philips' delightful thematic material with interesting little harmonic colors that make the score quite interesting to explore.
A delightfully light idea opens things with a “Ray of Sunshine”, a positive-fueled repeated motive with delicate scoring against a moving arpeggiated backdrop. A string statement of this catchy idea appears as well to add another more lyrical statement. The gentle melodic writing, providing slight variants as things bubble along, makes for one enchanting moment after another. It is also interesting to hear some interesting rhythmic syncopation in moments like “Pocket Full of Daisies” and a bit more in the upbeat “Joyful Ride”. One of the tracks, “Sweet and Simple” might best sum up this score, but it is a bit more than that with engaging thematic lines that add touches of emotion to the music as things move along. One is drawn into the adventure with these ideas while the harmonic shifts provide nice color along the way. “Journeyman” comes closest to being a slightly “country landscape”. A bit of light humor enters in as well in places like “Plucky Pals” and the appropriately jazzy variant of “Swing Lightly”. It is in this second half of the presentation that a variety of musical styles pop in with a bit more folkish flair (“Family Jamboree”; Village Jig”; “Campfire Whistling”; “Rosy Day”); a little Renaissance-like style in “Lavender and Lace” (and to a certain extent later in “Tournament Day”; a jazzy shuffle in “Mosey Along”; a Satie-like arabesque in “Gentle Breezes”, and other slight variants of the primary thematic ideas.
Horse Club Adventures is reminiscent of some of the lighter early work in Philips’ catalogue, but a wealth of experience has also broadened her palette with some rather unique little harmonic shifts that add to the melodic lines that float across the textures that drive the music (“Summer Dance”).Looping ideas work well against this style adding to the forward motion while the engaging thematic lines are layered along the way.The score has a sort of rom-com-like quality with its gentle musical ideas enchanting the listener and with its little touches upon light folk and country fare.