Monday, February 4, 2008

Missy Higgins Has A "Clear Night"

When she was only sixteen, Missy Higgins won a national Australian high school songwriting award in 2001 for “All For Believing.” Little did she know that it would be that song that would lead off her debut album “The Sound Of White” released in 2004. The album would later be nominated for eleven ARIA awards, the Australian equivalent of the Grammys. She then won seven, including “Album Of The Year,” “Best Female Artist,” “Best Pop Release,” “Breakthrough Artist” and “Highest Selling Album.”

After becoming an Australian household name, Missy went global. In 2006, she relocated to Los Angeles to record her sophomore effort with veteran producers Mitchell Froom (Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello, The Indigo Girls, Randy Newman) and Jay Newland (Norah Jones). The following year, Rolling Stone magazine called her performance at Live Earth a “highlight.”

The release of her second album “On A Clear Night” in April 2007 garnered her a three times platinum #1 record in Australia. The lead single “Steer” stayed on top of the Australian pop charts for several weeks, while the second single “Where I Stood” has recently been receiving heavy rotation on American primetime television, appearing on shows such as “Grey’s Anatomy,” “One Tree Hill,” and “Smallville” all within the past two months. As a result, Higgins is currently touring the United States, already having sold out her March show in New York City, and has become a featured “what’s hot” artist on iTunes.

“On A Clear Night” steers away slightly from Higgins’ debut album. While “The Sound Of White” focused a lot on emotionally driven piano ballads, the new record relies heavily on the guitar. It also transforms much of the jazz sound of the first CD into more of a singer-songwriter pop/indie feel, reminiscent of Sara Bareilles or Ingrid Michaelson. Also unlike her previous effort, Higgins seems to be trying something completely different in each song on the record. Rather than having each track bleed into one another for fluid transitions, she experiments with different sounds up against each other. There’s the raw Alanis Morissette grunge feel of “Peachy” followed by the country feel of “Going North,” while songs such as “Where I Stood” could easily appear on a Christina Aguilera record.

Higgins has delivered a beautiful album with a wide range of exposed emotions and influences. It’s easy to understand why legions of fans believe her unique sound and phenomenal self-written lyrics make her a “modern, female Bob Dylan.” Up till now, she hasn’t yet truly broken into the mainstream U.S. airwaves. But the fantastic and musically exceptional album “On A Clear Night” might just be this Aussie’s ticket to American success.


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