Brave drew attention for being Pixar's first film to feature a female protagonist, the headstrong, flame-haired Scottish princess Merida. However, as Brave's soundtrack reveals, the movie is also noteworthy for being one of the studio's most musical films, especially for one not featuring music by Pixar's go-to songwriter Randy Newman. Instead, Brave's songs make the most of the film's girl-power sentiments and Celtic setting with Patrick Doyle's lively score and songs performed by the cast, as well as Scottish folksinger Julie Fowlis and English singer/songwriter Birdy. Though Fowlis often sings in Scots Gaelic, she sounds just as soaring and sweet in English on "Touch the Sky" and "Into the Open Air"; likewise, Birdy -- accompanied by folk-rock sensations Mumford & Sons -- channels Merida's longing for freedom and wide-open spaces in "Learn Me Right." The princess' mom and dad get in on the act too, with Billy Connolly leading the cast through "Song of Mor'Du," a rousing song about a local monster, while Emma Thompson and Peigi Barker sing the lovely lullaby "Noble Maiden Fair (A Mhaighdean Bhan Uasal)." Meanwhile, Doyle's score embellishes its orchestral pieces with plenty of pipes, fiddles, and lilting melodies, particularly on "Fate and Destiny" and "Merida's Home," but also delivers some wonderfully cartoony moments with "The Games" and "Through the Castle," and downright tense cues such as "Merida Rides Away" and "Not Now!" Judged purely on its musical merits, Brave might not be the most memorable of Pixar soundtracks, but it maintains the studio's reputation for creative and fitting details in every part of its productions.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares