"Homeward Hie" & "Sunshine" by Rob HalliganReview
Rob Halligan fans will have felt blessed over the past week with two separate releases which I hope you won't mind my telling you about in a combined review.
The (slightly) earlier of the two, "Homeward Hie" represents a new direction for Rob, being his first released instrumental & in addition to the majority of the instruments played by its composer, Ewan Cameron adds whistles to this very celtic tune. I imagine that given its title if fits into his ‘Always Heading Home' project & indeed apparently its genesis lies in an intended interlude for another song which then evolved into a standalone piece evocative of heading into the west & the sunset & finding oneself in a land a natural beauty & sense of belonging.
The second song, released on Friday, however has different emotional overtones & history. "Sunshine" dates back a good couple of decades and this reworked version featuring Rob & piano and vocals and Andreas W Andersson providing soprano saxophone from Sweden has been created for the nineteenth anniversary of 9/11 as it was Rob's Dad's favourite of his songs & as you may well know, his father lost his life on that day.
With such extra layers of meaning & emotion (the majority of which I imagine apply most emphatically to Rob himself), it is difficult to be too objective about the song itself: so many tracks gain so much more meaning in the context of how they affect us remind us of things and people: in fact I could argue that all good music, all our favourite songs, have such power over us due to evocation of memories in addition to their basic content. Equally, I can't really comment on the track without holding in my mind why Rob has released it & the poignancy of the context.
You can see why his Dad loved this tender ballad, perched on a wire between sadness & positivity. The sax and the plangent piano simply emphasise the poignancy & I defy you to listen without a degree of moistness to your eyes.