When ten-time Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Greg Kohs needed a soundtrack to his feature film debut about a husband-and-wife Neil Diamond tribute duo, he focused in on his film’s sad Americana atmosphere when he approached Great Lake Swimmers’ singer/songwriter Tony Dekker. And Dekker delivered an exquisite rendition of Diamond’s “Song Sung Blue” (the title of the documentary), as well as some sweet instrumental music score. And it’s all compiled in Song Sung Blue EP.
The focus of Song is, naturally, Dekker’s cover of the Neil Diamond track, and it’s a strong one. Known for his sad, alt-folk ways in Great Lake Swimmers, Dekker applies that approach to “Song Sung Blue”, making it moving and beautiful. The rest of the EP is eight, mostly short, instrumentals that Dekker wrote as the score to Song Sung Blue. Top is probably “Old Milwaukee” (the duo’s hometown), a winning guitar-led instrumental backdrop. While some of the pieces before that sort of come-and-go, Song ends stronger with the growing harmony of “Eyes On the Prize”, electric alt-country strum of “Encore”, and little piano outro of “Final Bow”.
For decades, Kohs has been known for his work on Super Bowl films and commercials, and while that’s certainly the pinnacle of football and commercial filmmaking, it was still surprising to see him delve into something so different on Song Sung Blue. Kohs had been working on the film for eight years, but it has already won the Grand Jury and Audience Awards for Best Documentary Feature at this year’s Slamdance Film Festival (the alternative to the ever-mainstreaming Sundance). And Dekker has given it a score to do it proud.