I have to admit I have been putting off writing this review, mulling over some of the dilemmas related to the album (are we dealing with something derivative?). The score to Dear Esther was done by Jessica Curry, for whom it was the first serious project and the first foray into the video game music industry. The composer tried her utmost to capture the atmosphere of the game’s world, while accounting for the tastes of listeners solely interested in the album.
In Dear Esther we take on the role of a nameless hero, whom we guide across a deserted island with no particular destination in mind. The only hints for our travel come in the form of letters left by a fisherman to his beloved. During our travels, we are accompanied by the sounds of nature and illustrative music, in which the sounds of the piano (Twenty One), the violin (Remember – Esther) and the cello (Golden Ratio) are dominant. When writing the music, Jessica Curry took inspiration mainly from the works of Thomas Newman, Johann Sebastian Bach and Radiohead. This had an influence on the atmosphere of the album, which gives a sense of emotional intensity (Standing Stones) and richness of sound (This Godforsaken Aerial) and tone. The melancholy filling every track to the brim in no way interferes with the reception of the album – quite the contrary. Owing to that, our musical journey with Dear Esther is even more intense and at times personal in its reception.
Her vocals further underscore the nostalgic.
The recording of the soundtrack was bolstered by the vocalist Clara Sanbras who she sang Always Hebridean Mix and On The Motorway. Her vocals further underscore the nostalgic, at times gloomy, amosphere present of the album. As I have mentioned before, the music here serves an illustrative role – it is what fills the landscapes of the island. That being the case, can it be considered original and unprecedented? In a sense, yes, since Jessica Curry did not try to mimic existing conventions, but rather break away from them. Alas, she was unable to avoid doing so in some places. Nevertheless, it is not jarring enough to accuse the composer of copying other people’s work.
The music from Dear Esther not only made a very good impression on me, but proved once again that the video game music industry can surprise you when you least expect it. I am happy to witness that more and more often smaller releases with a lower production budget are able to hold their own against well-known franchises. In my humble opinion, Jessica Curry has not only proven herself to be an artist with a rich soul, but also an extraordinary person with a flair for composing music. I anxiously await another project by the author of the music to Dear Esther, a title I heartily recommend, especially to those seeking solace in the sounds of the piano, the violin and the cello.