In 2008 Rob visited the Foundry Music Lab in Motherwell, Scotland for the first time to work with Sandy Jones and Graeme Duffin. Rob was introduced to them by Gareth Davies-Jones whom he had been touring with for a couple of years.
The guys at the Foundry were a world class team, Duffin having supplied just about all the guitars fro Scottish legends Wet Wet Wet and Jones who had worked as engineer for various artists including the Wets.
They quickly helped Halligan find a ‘sound’ he could work with and as one reviewer said, would help add the punch to his songs that would give them that radio appeal.
Best thing that Happened went on to earn Halligan a nomination for Best Album at the CBC Media Awards and Solo Artist Of The Year at the Birmingham Music Awards.
All the songs on the album were written by Halligan apart from the final track, Carry Me Home, written by Andy Pierce and Pete Bank – a nod to Halligan’s new role as frontman for After the Fire.
Rob Halligan – Vocals, Acoustic Guitars
Graeme Duffin – Electric Guitars, Backing Vox
Sandy Jones – Bass, Programming
Yvonne Lyon – Backing Vocals
Gareth Davies Jones – Guitar on I Would Climb
Reviewed by Tony Cummings
Rob’s decision to travel up to Glasgow’s Foundry Music Lab and work with Wet Wet Wet guitar maestro Graeme Duffin on his new album was a smart one. Suddenly Rob’s insightful, melodically warm observations on life and the cosmos have sufficient punch and power to attract radio play that the previous releases from the Midlands singer/songwriter have lacked. Now don’t get me wrong. Duffin is too wise an old head to drench Rob’s gutsy compositions in multi-track over-production. So here there is a nice organic vibe to the whole proceedings. But the addition of a tasty Hammond on the opener “Dungeon Ghyl” and a delicious bass riff on “Blue Jeans” set up Rob’s neat, incisive compositions nicely while his rough textured voice has never sounded better. My faves are the lilting mid-tempo “Christian’s Brother” while his subdued acoustic rendition of “Carry Me Home”, the After The Fire oldie, shows what a great song it is. Can’t wait to hear Rob sing it in concert when he fronts ATF.
Wildy’s World Review (LINK)
Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)
Best Thing That’s Happened opens with Dungeon Ghyl, an upbeat song about faith and belief and about the first realization of those seeds inside of a person. Musically, this sounds like something you might hear from a band like Matchbox 20 or some other iconic aughts Pop/Rocker. Blue Jeans gives the album its title; it’s a love song that’s focused on the things that really matter, symbolized by a pair of comfy jeans. This is great pop song craft done with stylistic yet understandable imagery. Christian’s Brotheris a heartfelt song about a step-brother with whom the narrator has had a falling out. The story is intelligently and lovingly told in song, with a great melody and arrangement to back it up. Halligan returns to religious themes on I Will Climb in what could only be a letter/prayer to Jesus in song. Unlike a lot of Modern Christian pop, this is not about creating emotional effect in others or spreading the news, but a personal statement, similar to a diary entry, put into song.
David’s Song celebrates a friend most people have had at one point or another in their lives; the person who can just let go and be himself no matter what the world might say. It’s a great song about the human spirit at it’s most free and is done in a wonderfully vibrant arrangement that will have you wanting to dance. Halligan sounds a bit like Neil Diamond on Friend Of God, a song that suggests that there is comfort in knowing (or at least believing) where you’re going. If I Will Climb was a letter to Jesus in song, You may well be the answer. This will be a highly affecting song for some, but is unlikely to catch on outside of religious circles. The song itself is extremely well-written, and could be mistaken for a highly-emotive love ballad if not for a couple of lines pertaining specifically to the crucifixion. Not On Your Own finds Halligan sounding like Jersey rocker Glen Burtnik (Styx) in a song that mixes acoustic and electric in a fashion that borders on Rock and Americana without fully committing to either genre. Roger Daltrey is likely a tribute to the artist’s father and is an incredibly human song; deep with emotion, thought and remembrance. Halligan ends with Carry Me Home; a wistful love song written across distance and time. The plaintive refrain becomes almost a chant, like the pure repetition of emotional need it represents.
Rob Halligan presents Best Thing That’s Happened as a rock album. There are songs here that are Contemporary Christian Folk/Rock songs, and there’s traditional Folk/Rock material that’s secular at least on the surface, but an element of faith, hope and love pervades all of the songs on Best Thing That’s Happened. This isn’t canned pop music for an audience of worshippers, but deep and introspective singer/songwriter material from someone who lives a life guided by faith, and that guidance blends into his songs as much as the rest of what he might think about the world. In the end, Halligan has created a breath-taking collection of songs that deserves to be heard. Some of the material here would be eschewed by Pop/Rock radio because of the subject matter, but there’s enough crossover appeal in both directions to make Halligan a big star.