‘Each track has a story to tell and with sublime instrumental scoring, stories of love and loss are brought to life, even when the words are absent.’
It’s not everyday that a TV programme sees the release of its music, however every episode of this ITV drama, The Halcyon just wouldn’t be the same without it.
The soundtrack itself opens up with, rather aptly, the title music ‘Hourglass’ which certainly has a touch of Bond about it, giving a real sense of expectation to every episode, and it is this case every track that follows after. It is also probably safe to say that if you watched the series, you will have experienced a whole range of emotions and the soundtrack itself is no different in this aspect.
In stark contrast to the title music, we are propelled, like an RAF serviceman at top speed into the full on swinging sounds of ‘Marvellous Party’ (performed by Beverley Knight) which, as with all the tracks, is an opportunity to hear the full version of the mere snippets used in the programme. Reaching the mid point in this track, we get a real sense of Dixieland and Swing Jazz through fantastic clarinet solos and hugely polyphonic writing that you can’t help feel is a musical nod to the chaos of war. From this, the mood changes somewhat with the 4 tracks that follow taking you away from the chaos and towards the more romantic side of the era.
Each track in this section has a story to tell and with sublime instrumental scoring, as well as wonderful performances from both Jamie Cullum (on Track 3 ‘Forever’) and Kara Tointon (on Track 4 ‘Mr. Heartache’ and Track 6 ‘September Blues’), these stories of love and loss are brought to life, even when the words are absent. Like many others on the soundtrack, I find it hard to believe these aren’t wartime recordings and in fact the only thing that gives them away, is the lack of hiss and crackle.
Following these more reflective tracks, we are met with a set of three more powerful and light-hearted tracks giving a real sense of the adage ‘Keep Calm and Carry On.’ Among these are Track 8 ‘Invincible’ (featuring Jamie Cullum) and Track 9 ‘When the Wind Blows’ (featuring Kara Tointon) which through the use of some clever, cheeky and at times rather amusing lyrics, create a real sense of we can do this. The same can also be said for Track 10 ‘Playin’ up a Storm’, which although instrumental, sounds just as cheeky. This liveliness is however, once again brought to an end with another series of tracks allowing for further reflective story telling.
Out of this trio of tracks, the most moving moments do not come from Track 11 ‘Blue Jasmine’ or Track 12 ‘Radio’, but they in fact come from Track 13 ‘Follow Me.’ Here we are brought home to, for the first time in the whole album, the real result of war and through the use of slow harmonic changes and ethereal vocals, you can’t help but be moved.
Bringing the album to an end are three, highly contrasting tracks which appear to highlight the different emotions felt by all involved. The first of these is Track 14 ‘Honeytrap’ which sees a return to big band sounds combined with cheeky lyrics creating what can only be described as a full on party atmosphere. From this, we are literally taken back in time with Track 15 giving us the most iconic performance of one of the most iconic songs of the time ‘A Nightingale sang in Berkeley Square’ featuring Dame Vera Lynn. Unsurprisingly, the final track of the album, Track 16 ‘Out of the Sun’ is the music featured in the closing credits of all but the last episode, and while it is certainly more sombre and more moving than the opening ones, it has just as much sense of expectation. It is certainly worth a listen or two.
The Halcyon Soundtrack is available through Decca Records and by visiting the iTunes Store.