It’s been five yeas since Missy Higgins’ last offering, 2007’s On A Clear Night. That album was a fairly quick followup to a debut that announced Higgins as a new singer-songwriter whose voice was worth listening to, and with those two albums she not only broke through in the Australian market, but she made a fair dent in the American one, as well. Thanks very much to fantastic placement in hit television shows like Grey’s Anatomy, One Tree Hill and So You Think You Can Dance, Higgins’ music entered the pop world vernacular and she brought a smokiness and depth that was lacking in a lot of other female voices that were popular at the time.
But five years is a long time to go without any new material in the pop world. But after promoting and touring On A Clear Night, Higgins receded from the music industry, and went back to University and very quietly pulled away from the fame, the press, the awards ceremonies and went about constructing a life that was different than the one she’d lived since she first started touring heavily in the early 2000s.
It was a call to join Sarah McLachlan’s Lilith Fair tour of 2010, though, that brought Higgins out of the obscurity she’d fabricated for herself, and after playing a few shows on that tour, she combined forces with fellow Australian Butterfly Boucher and they began to write songs. A year and change later, Higgins released her third album The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle, debuting at #1 in its first week in Australia. It is slated for release on July 17th in North America via Vagrant Records.
Last Friday, Glide Magazine had the pleasure of seeing Missy perform four songs from The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle at a private showcase in downtown San Francisco. Opening with the acoustic-guitar ballad “Sweet Arms of a Tune,” she immediately quieted everyone in the room by starting off in the higher register of her range, but she did so effortlessly. In no way was she reaching for those notes, straining from not enough warming up or vocal rest. They broke through and hit pitch perfect, which essentially indicated the tenor of the next four songs. While the tracks definitely sit squarely in a pop/rock aesthetic (very much the 4/4, traditional major/minor interplay and such), the lyrics are particularly intriguing and well-crafted. What Higgins does have, as well, is a strong grasp on melody, and these songs (especially lead single “Hello Hello”) are anchored by catchy lines and thoughtful instrumentation.
While we only heard four songs performed solo (three on piano, one on guitar), the performance showed that the retreat from and subsequent return to the limelight has done nothing to lessen her ability or diminish her talent; rather, Higgins sounds re-energized, full of conviction and ready to get out and play these songs for the world, and no doubt many will be excited to do just that.
Sweet Arms of a Tune
Set Me On Fire
The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle is out July 17th via Vagrant. For more information, visit her official website, and listen to lead single “Hello Hello” below: