The Two Halves Finnegan Shanahan
THE TWO HALVES
The Two Halves is the debut album from Brooklyn-based singer and multi-instrumentalist Finnegan Shanahan. Part travelogue and part song cycle, The Two Halves is an ambitious statement of purpose from the 22-year old Shanahan. Based on a map of the Hudson River Railroad circa 1852, the album is divided into six songs, each one a small thread of a dreamlike fabric — moving along the Hudson and gradually out over the Catskills, hurtling across the country to the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico, and eventually leaving the planet. as I Care If You Listen writes, “the whole album showcases well thought out new song forms that explore beautiful timbral combinations mixed with well-used electronic effects and filters to help recreate Shanahan’s dreamlike past.”
Commissioned and recorded by powerhouse new music ensemble Contemporaneous (of which Shanahan is a founding member), the 35-minute song cycle balances Shanahan's deft violin work and ethereal vocals with sprawling arrangements of strings, horns, percussion, and electronics. Musically, the album lies at the crossroads of avant-garde composition and lushly-orchestrated folk music and moves seamlessly from passages of breathless beauty to moments of high-energy groove, capturing the breadth of the Hudson Valley itself. Maggie Stapleton of Second Inversion described the record as falling “in that beautiful in-between place with constant energy that keeps me excited about the evolution of music in the 21st century."
Additionally, The Two Halves features 18 unique pieces of corresponding artwork by artist and illustrator Render Stetson, each image depicting one of three different "Dream Map" locations per song. These locations are half-remembered, half-imagined places imposed upon the mysterious and mostly-empty 19th century map.
Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico and raised in Rhinebeck, NY, Shanahan has performed and/or recorded with such artists as Pete Seeger, Jherek Bischoff, David Byrne, Amanda Palmer, Jen Goma, Greg Saunier, Dr. Skinnybones, The Music Tapes, Chris Rubeo, GABI, Yassou Benedict, The Left Banke, Sam Kogon, and Steady Sun, among others. He has also scored and self-recorded music for multiple independent and experimental films.
Contemporaneous is an ensemble of 21 musicians that performs and promotes the most exciting work of living composers through innovative concerts, commissions, recordings, and educational programs. Founded in 2010 at Bard College, Contemporaneous has premiered more than 60 works across the United States, many of them large-scale works by composers of their own generation.