Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 9.38.14 pmOn the surface of it, ‘Sunset Road‘, the free single from my album, ‘Not All the Leaves are Falling‘,  is a description of the autumn landscape on my Tauranga city to Maketu farm commute as I let go of the demands of work and head for home.

However, below this surface reading, there is a deeper well of experiences and ideas that gathered together into this particular combination of words and melody.


Leave-taking & Homecoming

For me, the soul of this song is about me making peace with coming home to New Zealand. I was 19 when I moved to Sydney and I spent my individuating and formative 20’s in its bright glow.  There was a time when I said I would never come home to New Zealand. I came home in crisis in 2008, a reluctant returner and it took me time to learn to love the terrain of my childhood again and to make peace with my homecoming.

“I am happy living here in the shadow of these hills” is a statement I could never have said in the early years. That it bubbled out of me honestly in this song six years later is testament to the homecoming journey having done its work deep inside me.


Nature As Character 

In my busy 20’s, nature for me was setting, scenery, a vague blur in the background of the real action.  Trees were stage props which I was blind to in all honesty!  In the last seven years, I have changed.  I no longer perceive nature as simply a setting in this story but as a central character in the drama of human life.  Trees and flowers now keep me company in the way that friends do.

I am learning to detect the shimmering vitality of Divine Presence within the trees, plants and flowers that surround me.  They keep me company in gentle and life-giving ways, shooting colour through my soul and fresh steadiness into my bones. (Read: The Secret Life of Trees)

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. Psalm 19

Sunset Road Moments as Spiritual Encounter

My drive home at sunset was part of that heart-lifting recognition.  Panoramic landscapes create soul space. The expanse of the sky, strewn with peach, gold and purple opened up an interior capacity that allowed me to breathe all the way down. The trees shining in the exuberant throes of dying light somehow echoed my own life, my own being, my own grateful dependence on light.  The nature of beauty acted on me like redemption, like restoration.


Virginia Woolf’s Trees

Virginia Woolf, the acclaimed British novelist and member of the Bloomsbury set, has forever changed the way I look at trees.  In her first novel ‘The Voyage Out’, and last novel ‘Between the Acts’ I was struck by her soulful depiction of trees and way her characters encounter them as wholly ‘other’ – one character, in recognising that the grand, old trees will outlast her, comes face to face with her own mortality.

The line in Sunset Road – ‘when I’m gone they’ll face the sunrise just the same’ – harks back to my Virginia Woolf reading moments. Her characters gain a sense of both their connected and their smallness in the grand scope of nature.


The contemplative traditions teach me that spiritual growth begins with the recognition of a transcendent reality beyond the borders of my ego, which does not depend on me and which I cannot control. Sit in nature in silence for an hour and you will begin to intuit this dynamic.

The magic of an auburn sunset is a gift I drink in with an open heart.
The trees who flourish in dependence are co-inheritors of the grace that also sustains me.
The beauty of an ordinary scene lit up by extraordinary light is a whisper of my own story.

This is the story that shimmers beneath the surface of ‘Sunset Road’.



Watch Sunset Road Music Video