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Red Dead Redemption returns and the castanets are back!

Updated: Jul 20, 2020

With the return of one of my favourite games, Red Dead Redemption 2, comes a brand-new captivating score.


Red Dead Redemption 2 sees a return to the harsh setting of the mid-West at the turn of the 19th Century. The game addresses the follow-up story of the previous game's main character. This rendition of the outlaw-ridden mid-West comes with the detail and immersion made possible by today’s technology. Fortunately, the ramp-up in detail and Rockstar’s willingness to up the spending on production didn’t exclude the music department.

Woody Jackson, who has scored previous titles like the original Red Dead Redemption, L.A. Noire and Grand Theft Auto V, returned to score Red Dead Redemption 2 and, reusing the successful techniques of its predecessor, composed an interactive and dynamic score. The previous game had a score composed entirely in the key of A minor so the pieces could seamlessly intertwine as events in the game developed and resolved. The same example of ingenuity has been reapplied to the recent release, and I couldn’t be more captivated.

The atmosphere set by the score is a perfect fit for the unforgiving wastelands and I could easily find myself leaving the character standing still in the middle of nowhere just so I can take in the sounds. Like the previous score, Jackson has once again emulated the style of music used in classic Spaghetti Western cinema, which keeps me happy as for me it’s just one big nostalgia trip. Only this time around, the score is full of much more vibrant, dynamic moments that really demonstrate the amount of effort Rockstar, Jackson and everyone else involved with the game put into its production.

Incorporating a different approach, Rockstar enlisted the skills of Colin Stetson (Bon Iver, Hereditary), David Ferguson (Johnny Cash’s engineer), David Ralicke (Beck, Sons of Anarchy), Gabe Witcher (Punch Brothers, True Detective), Luke O'Malley, Mario Batkovic (of Geoff Barrow’s Invada), Matt Sweeney (Chavez, Superwolf, Iggy Pop, Bonnie Prince Billy), Rabih Beaini and Senyawa, as well as contributions from over 110 other musicians including Arca (frequent Bjork, Kanye West, Frank Ocean and Kelela collaborator), Duane Eddy (Lee Hazlewood protégé), Jon Theodore (former drummer of Mars Volta and current Queens of the Stone Age drummer), Michael Shuman aka Mikey Shoes (Queens of the Stone Age, Mini Mansions) and more. The soundtrack also features additional vocal performances from a range of award-winning artists including D’Angelo, Willie Nelson, Nas, Rhiannon Giddens, Josh Homme, plus an additional track written, produced and performed by David Ferguson. All songs for both the score and soundtrack were created exclusively for Red Dead Redemption 2.

As with the previous instalment, I will be keeping an eye out for the official release of the score and soundtrack. If we’re lucky enough to be offered a vinyl I’ll be sure to snap that up straight away as the limited-edition vinyls are now worth 10-20 times their original value!

The Red Dead Redemption II soundtrack has not yet been officially released.

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