Another Fine Mess was something of a coming of age album. Produced around his 40th birthday year and 10 years after 9/11 Halligan, by his own admission, had spent a decade on a rollercoaster, grappling with faith, frustrations and most of all his own failings.
I had gone into music, all guns blazing thinking I could make a difference. On the face of it it was looking OK but being the scenes I’d failed people, hurt people and felt a complete mess. I hated the hypocrisy in the church but mores in myself and struggled to put that into words.
Both the title track and Can Anyone Hear were songs that opened up a new level of honesty and vulnerability in Halligan’s live shows. “God is big enough to cope with our doubts – he doesn’t get insecure when we’re honest with him”.
Rob Halligan – Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
Graeme Duffin – Electric Guitars, Backing Vox
Sandy Jones – Programming, Bass
Reviewed by Jon Cooper
Rob Halligan’s folky strum-alongs mine the same musical coalface at which Ryan Adams often wields his pickaxe; rootsier than the ceiling in a badger’s bedroom, and with as many nods to electronic music as an Amish bluegrass band. If you like your tunes emotive, easily replicable around a campfire and are sceptical of worship lyric clichés, then ‘Another Fine Mess’ could sit comfortably in your record collection. Opener “Heavenfield” recalls The Levellers, and “Hope” jingles along like The Proclaimers covering Marc Cohn. Throughout, Halligan’s voice remains gritty and passionate, his harmonies crisp and Springsteen-esque. “All We Need Is Love” is a mission statement of a duet, featuring a beautiful female vocal that makes the chorus soar. The title track is a powerful ballad, complete with Mark Knopfler-inspired lead breaks and lyrics that update the searching and longing themes of many of the Psalms. “Seen The Light” wouldn’t be out of place on the Raising Sand, and closing track “Can Anyone Hear” is a gentle, finger-picked poem written for whoever cares to listen – which should probably be a greater number of people than currently do so. Fans of Neal Casal and Israel Nash Gripka should investigate further.