Arranging a Legend: A review of Cory Johnson's "The Legend of Zelda" tribute album


I actually wrote about this album once before, but that was a couple years ago. They were trying times, what with trying to keep my website from crashing, back when I had to spend much more time focusing on the basic functionality of the site more than the actual content.

It's a new era though, and I am here to give the Legend of Zelda album by Cory Johnson the love and affection it so richly deserves, even if I am a few years late.

Having no formal training in music, I often describe music based on the mood or images it conjures up in my mind. This album would best be described as immense. This album is more an epic to be traversed than an album to toss on in the background while doing homework. Something about Cory Johnson's music grabs me by the ear and forces me to really soak it all in. Well I think two years or so of this album is long enough to get properly soaked, so let's get started.

The album is off to a great start with "Fairy Fountain," my personal favorite song from the entire Legend of Zelda series. Johnson's rendition of the well known menu theme starts off meandering, but don't be impatient as the song closes with an upbeat, drum driven rush of music that will take you back to your own personal favorite Zelda game. This is a good state of mind to be in, since we've got nearly two dozen more songs to go. The next song, "Hyrule Field," is an arrangement that one could imagine a wandering minstrel performing quietly under a tree just outside of town. The song rises and falls and rises again with inspiring waves of sound that create the feeling of an ever building adventure. 

Don't unsheath that sword just yet, perhaps it's time to remember what this adventure is all about, and "Zelda's Lullaby" is just the track for that. The song is less royal, and a little more gritty thanks to the rock arrangement Johnson provides. The track quickly goes from somber to driven as the instruments build and twist around one another. The album moves seamlessly into another theme. This time for Link's noble steed in "Epona's Interlude" which takes on much of the same vibe as the previous arrangement. If I owned a horse, I'd play this song for her every day. At about the halfway mark, I thought I heard everything I needed to hear from this track, but Johnson changes things up just past the two minute mark with a crashing of drums that leads into a sort of aged reprise, finally culminating with a hint of piano. The song gives way to "Zelda's Reprise", which excellently sandwiches the previous track, creating the feeling of a nearly fifteen minute medley of beautifully arranged music.


And as if this lengthy review wasn't enough convincing, you can grab the album on a pay any amount you want scale through Cory Johnson's The Legend of Zelda album bandcamp page.