Enola Holmes – Daniel Pemberton

As a film music reviewer, I try to review the music of a wide range of composers and not to review the music from the same composer in a short time period, but there are also some composers who are an exception to that rule, with Daniel Pemberton being one of them. After having reviewed his excellent score for Rising Phoenix recently, it is now time to look at his music for the Netflix movie Enola Holmes.

The main character of this movie is the teen girl Enola Holmes, who is the little sister of the famous Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes. In this movie she is looking for her mother, who has gone missing. I know Pemberton as a composer of a wide range of musical styles, and for this girl, living in the 19th century, Pemberton went for a lighthearted orchestral score with extra elements.

The music for Enola Holmes is focusing on a couple of themes. The first theme is for Enola as a person, which can be heard in the first track “Enola Holmes (Wild Child).” After a mysterious start, a delightful musical foundation is set for the oboe to play the beautiful melody of her theme. Apparently the theme does not represent her alone, it can also be heard in the track for her brothers in “Mycroft & Sherlock Holmes,” with the melody played by the brass. Since this is only on one occasion, I would still dedicate the theme to Enola and not to the whole Holmes family. In “Fields of London” you hear a version on strings before the oboe returns to take over the melody.

The second theme portrays Enola as a detective, and it can be heard for the first time in “Gifts from Mother,” played on the flute, in which it sounds very mysterious with wave-like notes supporting the main melody. In “Cracking the Chrysanthemums Cypher” the mystery is still there, but the melody sounds more determined, and more uplifting, working towards a fantastic finale with the support of a vocalist. In “The Game is Afoot” and “London Arrival” you can listen to an amazing version, with the orchestra playing the theme on a musical foundation of what sounds like a horse ride.

The last theme that can be found is for Enola’s love interest Tewkesbury, and it can be heard for the first time in “Marquis.” “Tewkesbury’s Trail” also contains a gorgeous version of it, in which the melody is blended in with the orchestra. In the “Enola & Tewkesbury Farewell” you hear it for the last time, before the music transitions into the detective theme.

Most of the rest of the score is a mix of one of the three themes, where the detective theme can be heard a bit more than the other themes, but they are all integrated in some kind of variation in many places in the score. When you do not want to hear one of the themes, you can listen to wonderful tracks like “Dressing up Box” and “Messages for Mother.” 

To be honest, I am not surprised that the music for this movie is fantastic. Pemberton has a gift for creating the right kind of sound, style and melodies that fits perfectly with the movie. While the music for this film sounds like a regular orchestral score, Pemberton gives it his own unique spin, with extra ‘wonky’ sounds, which are interesting sounds he has incorporated into this soundtrack. If you like Pemberton’s music, you should definitely follow him on Twitter. It is the only social media he uses, where he explains the ‘wonk’ for this movie. They are, for example, a squeaky door he has recorded in an Airbnb, using a cardboard box as a percussion instrument, using some different acoustic guitars to give some tracks more life, or the sound of a piano being played while the snares are being dampened. Some of these sounds are prominent, like the guitars, but others can be heard subtly in the background when you listen to the music more thoroughly. Those extra sounds, in combination with the orchestra together with the superb themes, make this soundtrack a pleasure to listen to. If you are looking for something uplifting in these troubled times, give this score a listen.

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The highlights are in bold.

  1. Enola Holmes (Wild Child) (3:00)
  2. Gifts from Mother (1:10)
  3. Mycroft & Sherlock Holmes (1:02)
  4. Cracking the Chrysanthemums Cypher (2:36)
  5. The Game Is Afoot (1:53)
  6. Train Escape (3:33)
  7. Nincompoop (1:38)
  8. Marquis (1:23)
  9. Fields of London (1:10)
  10. London Arrival (2:31)
  11. Dressing Up Box (1:18)
  12. Messages for Mother (1:44)
  13. The Limehouse Puzzle (2:15)
  14. Limehouse Lane (2:42)
  15. Fight Combat (3:22)
  16. Edge of a Cliff (1:41)
  17. Basilwether Hall (1:36)
  18. Forest Clues (2:48)
  19. Tewkesbury’s Trail (1:41)
  20. Escaping Lestrade (1:54)
  21. Making a Lady (3:15)
  22. School Escape (2:52)
  23. Tick Tock (3:49)
  24. For England (3:34)
  25. Ha! (1:16)
  26. Enola & Tewkesbury Farewell (2:56)
  27. An Old Friend (1:54)
  28. Mother (1:59)
  29. Enola Holmes (The Future Is Up to Us) (3:46)

Total length: 1 hour and 6 minutes
Milan (2020)

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