The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
Starr Parodi and Jeff Eden Fair
2022 / Lakeshore Records
Review by Kathy Parsons
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is the soundtrack recording for the 2022 motion picture by the same name. The soundtrack was created by Starr Parodi and Jeff Eden Fair, who were recently nominated for a 2023 Grammy award for their 2022 soundtrack for An Adoption Story. Both together and individually, Parodi and Fair have scored hundreds of films and television programs, earning a very impressive list of awards along the way. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry was orchestrated by Parodi and Larry Rench, and Starr's piano plays an important role in much of the music. Isolde Fair, Starr and Jeff's daughter, is the violin soloist on the album, and the orchestrated strings were recorded in Hungary by The Budapest Scoring Orchestra. Other soloists include flute, oboe and trumpet. Jeff Fair created the sound design and also recorded the soloists at Grey Dog Studios. The film is based on the best-selling novel by Gabrielle Zevin, who also wrote the screenplay and gave the composers invaluable insights into the story.
Starr Parodi sent me this brief synopsis of the film, which also explains the changing moods and approaches to the music:
“This film takes place on a fictional island in Massachusetts, is character driven and based on a NY Times best-selling novel written by Gabrielle Zevin. The story spans a timeframe of about 12 years and is centered around a small bookstore owner (Kunal Nayyar) who feels lost & is struggling to stay afloat after his wife’s tragic death. He drinks his sorrows away and hits rock bottom when his most prized possession (a rare copy of Edgar Allen Poe’s “Tamerlane”) is stolen. Ultimately he transforms when an orphaned child comes into his life mysteriously and melts his heart. He ends up raising the child who grows up throughout the film, as he also finds love & friendship (Lucy Hale & David Arquette) and a new lease on life. This melody driven score was recorded with orchestra & chamber group featuring piano, violin, flute, oboe and trumpet soloists and was inspired by the characters, the colors of small town New England, and the seasons of life.”
Parodi and Fair worked closely with director Hans Canosa, exchanging ideas several times a day for a few months as they created the musical score. Again quoting Ms Parodi:
"We wanted the music to reflect the sense of community that existed on the small New England island where most of the story takes place. We did this by creating long areas of musical space and simplicity with the voices of solo instruments, and their sense of intimacy. It was also very important to us that the music breathe and wasn’t locked to any strict tempo."
I haven't seen this film (yet), but the soundtrack really makes me want to see it! Most of the twenty-three tracks are under 2 1/2 minutes, but they express a range of emotions and energy levels that tell a story unto themselves (without telling you exactly what you should be feeling). In other words, the music is both beautiful and very enjoyable with or without any visuals or dialogue other than what you create in your own imagination!
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is available from Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes and streaming sites such as Spotify. Very highly recommended!
January 11, 2023