For this, his seventh soundtrack for director Peter Greenaway, Nyman deftly orchestrates a mix of strings, horns, and voices to produce another of his fetching and romantic minimalist backdrops. The opening "Memorial" is the highlight of the lot and drives along with stuttering saxophones, an insistent string arrangement, elegiac brass solos, and the soaring vocals of soprano Sarah Leonard (Leonard would be featured on a large part of the Prospero's Books soundtrack). The piece was originally inspired by a 1985 Belgian soccer match tragedy, in which 39 Italian fans were killed. Nyman utilized a death march in his earlier Greenaway collaboration, Drowning by Numbers, and revives the scheme to great effect here for what would become the main theme of The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover. Nyman contrasts the piece's climatic quality with two relatively sedate yet brooding numbers.
It's obvious from the greasy opening blues vibe in "Exodus of Venus," the title track of Elizabeth Cook's first album in six years, that something is very different. Produced by guitarist Dexter Green, this set is heavier, darker, and harder than anything she's released before. Its 11 songs are performed by a crack band that includes bassist Willie Weeks, drummer Matt Chamberlain, keyboardist Ralph Lofton, and lap steel guitarist Jesse Aycock. The tunes are drenched in swampy electric blues, psychedelic Americana, gritty R&B, and post-outlaw country. Cook has been tried by fire these past few years. She's endured six deaths – including her parents – a divorce, a stint in rehab, and more. It slowed her writing to a crawl. Exodus of Venus is her way of telling that story, and as such, its songs often stray from the narrative storyteller's manner she's previously employed in favor of a more jarring poetic style that still communicates directly.