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I discovered Missy Higgins completely by mistake. I was looking for something different on youtube and came across a live acoustic session she did in a radio studio. Her voice captivated me so much that I went and got the album right away.
I have mixed feelings about ON a Clear Night. No doubt, her vocals are stunning as ever and her jazz roots are right out there which I like. Also, there are a few songs on there which will be favourites with me for quite some time. "Where I stood" is a really beautiful piano based ballad with lyrics that bring a tear to my eye. "Secret" and "peachy" are guitar based tracks with a real funky feel to them. Lots of attitude and a fresh sound.
I was however a little disappointed with the fact that I invariably prefer her songs live to recorded. Some artists seem to lose some of their sparkle when you lock them in a recording booth and unfortunately, Missy would seem to be one of these.
The only way I can really describe it is like the difference in a river and a water feature in someone's lounge.
Over all, it's a lovely album and very well executed. Great lyrics and of course, her vocals are fab. Her voice has that velvet smoky sound you may associate with singers like Nora jones but with an edge that reminds me strongly of Gwen Stefani in the No Doubt days.
There are one or two tracks that have the blah blah sound of padding to me but that's to be expected with nine out of ten albums after all.
I'd say that roughly half of the tracks are either breathtakingly beautiful or funky with good energy. The other half are a bit generic. Nice enough but not a talking point at a party.
On a clear night is the second of Missy Higgins full length albums, the single from which reached number one on the pop charts in Australia - a first for the Melbournian singer/songwriter.
On the album she touches on a number of issues in Australian culture and her own life. One of the major themes of the album is her relationships with people, some of which have been secret. The song "the Secret" tells the story of a high profile woman who Missy Higgins has a relationship with. Her lover didn't want to go public about being lesbian - something that Higgins had an issue with, having come out as bisexual.
The single Steer is very catchy and can give you a nice lift when you listen to its ringing octaves on the guitar. In this song, Higgins also shows off her immensely powerful voice - one of her key attractions as an artists.
Other songs like Sugarcane tell stories about some of her reflections on the Australian landscape that she enjoys while touring.
The album signals a coming of age for Missy Higgins after her first album, which wasn't as polished. This album is more coherant and has a nicer flow than her previous work.
By the time you have finished the album, you will probably want to press play again and listen to it over.
The album isn't overly long with just 11 short songs on it, but it is very enjoyable and has the same Australian ring to it that her other work features.
1. Where I Stood 4:17
2. 100 Round The Bends 2:58
3. Steer 3:49
4. Sugarcane 3:16
5. Secret 4:07
6. Warm Whispers 3:14
7. The Wrong Girl 3:30
8. Angela 3:03
9. Peachy 2:38
10. Going North 2:42
l11. Forgive Me 4:05
I am a bit lazy when it comes to music these days. I tend to listen to the radio mostly, or listen to older, well loved CD's and compilations, in the car mostly (especially while driving to Inverness as the radio reception is pants in parts of the A9)
I was given this CD as a Christmas present by my friend who lives in Australia. I confess I had never heard of the artist before, far less this particular CD.
It has turned out to be a favourite and I have listened to it again and again.
Missy Higgins is a 24 year old Australia singer/songwriter. She is a phenomenal success in her homeland and her album "The Sound of White" was Australia's best-selling album of 2005. This album "On a Clear Night" has been awarded Highest Selling Australian of 2007. (from www.missyhiggins.com)
Missy Higgins has written the music and lyrics for all the tracks on this CD and it has been produced by Mitchell Froom (known for his work with Crowded House, Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello)
My copy is the Australian Import and is a three part cardboard sleeve with a picture of a barefoot Missy gazing wistfully into the sky.
The lyrics are included in a small booklet (in small writing so reading glasses probably required) along with the usual acknowledgements and thank yous.
1. Where I Stood (4:17).
Mainly piano accompaniment to start, the tempo picks up slightly with Missy's voice pure and slightly breathy in parts.
"Cos I don't know who I am, who I am without you"
It is a beautiful ballad of love lost that will be familiar to many people, as it featured heavily on the soundtracks of One Tree Hill, Smallville and Grey's Anatomy among others.
2. 100 Round The Bends (2:58)
This is a more up tempo number, almost jangily in places. It is slightly reminiscent of Tracy Chapman's track "Fast Car" to my mind, anyway.
"So jump in my car we'll go 100 round the bends
And we'll pretend that feeling rage is feeling real"
I think this is a real feel-good, driving track, with very catchy lyrics. You'll find yourself singing along in no time...
3. Steer (3:50)
Beginning with tuneful strumming on the acoustic guitar, this is a song which gradually builds through the first verse. It seems to be about self-empowerment, realising that you can yourself influence the direction that your life takes.
"And your heart is fierce
So now you finally know that you control where you go
You can steer"
The track continues to gather momentum throughout into the choruses. Missy's voice is clear and forceful throughout, and reminds me a bit of Kelly Clarkson.
4. Sugarcane (3:16)
This is a sweet but not twee track. Slower and melodic with a piano accompaniment, this is almost haunting, both in its tune and its lyrics.
"You see my peep-show booth is handy
There's a one-way-only mirror
So I can dance here with my hair down"
This is probably my favourite of the slower tracks, I just love the simplicity of the melody.
5. Secret (4:07)
The slight Country influence on this haunting track is a surprising change but it still seems to fit in with the album as a whole. According to her website, this track was written round just three notes played on one string of the guitar.
"Yeah you, you got a secret don't ya babe?
And I should know
Yeah I should know"
This tracks snakes along at a languid, sensual pace. It's a bit different from the other tracks on the album, but I like it.
6. Warm Whispers (3:12)
This to my mind is more of a filler track. It is a sweet and gorgeous lovesong but it isn't a stand out track.
"Your warm whispers
Letting me drown in a pool of you"
It's inoffensive but not amongst my favourites on this album.
7. The Wrong Girl (3:31)
More of a foot-tapper, this track swaggers along nicely. To be honest I'm not 100% sure what this song is about, may be about people holding misconceptions about someone from their outward appearance.
"This has not been as easy as I thought it would
I'd be cooling down the fire if I thought I could"
This is apparently Missy's favourite track on the album.
8. Angela (3:02)
Another of my favourite tracks, sang with the backing of an acoustic string band. A bit "plinky-plonky" is parts, I like the fact it is a wee bit different.
"Angela, Angela you're a danger he's addicted to"
This song was apparently inspired by a picture of Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh. One more track that you can't help but sing along with.
9. Peachy (2:39)
More of a feisty, "kick-ass" track, this one picks up the tempo and throws in a bit of anger at an ex-lover. This track is energetic and I can imagine it goes down a storm when played live.
"You say life is peachy without me"
Neil Finn features on this track with extra guitars. One for
anyone who's ever been dumped....
10. Going North (2:48)
Another track with Country influence, Neil Finn joins Missy with backing vocals on this track. I think this track is about taking a chance and just going out and grabbing life, seeing places and doing things.
"Under the arms of eye-less trees
Up where the answers fall like leaves"
I find the lyrics on this track really interesting.
11. Forgive Me (4:04)
This track sounds like it has been recorded with Missy just sitting in a room with her guitar. The absence of any real backing music, focuses the ear on her gorgeous voice and her plea for forgiveness from a wronged lover. This track appears to have been written for a man to sing as it speaks of "oh my wife" and "take this one fallen man" but this doesn't detract from the beauty of the song.
"And I was on shakey land
Lost and unsure I opened my hand
And she held it like sinking sand"
A beautiful and haunted conclusion to the album.
It can seem like there is a surfeit of female songwriters at times, but I would urge you to give Missy Higgins a listen. She's a little bit different and more than a little bit good.
Check her out on Youtube and see what you think.....
On Amazon from £17.98 (new), £2.95 (used)
A couple of copies available on Ebay at time of writing
This is my first attempt at a music review (right out of my comfort zone as far as my review writing is concerned - and it has taken me about six weeks to write on and off!)!), so please be kind ..... All constructive criticism gratefully accepted. Please note that I didn't watch any of the Youtube clips until after I had written this review so the interpretations/meanings of the songs are my own observations (however right or wrong they may be!)
(This review has been previously published on Ciao under my username carcraig)
On A Clear night is the second release from Missy Higgins and it is surprisingly different to her first. It is based almost entirely on guitar melodies, unlike her first which was more about piano. Her sound is still the same, although I think she has become a little more pop and mainstream with this album.
"Where I Stood" - 4:16
"100 Round the Bends" - 2:58
"Steer" - 3:53
"Sugarcane" - 3:16
"Secret" - 4:06
"Warm Whispers" - 3:12
"The Wrong Girl" - 3:31
"Angela" - 3:02
"Peachy" - 2:39
"Going North" - 2:48
"Forgive Me" - 4:04
I was disappointed by this album, after the amazing wonder that was The Sound Of White this album is a bit of a let down, she has clearly been influenced by the current market and has tried to change the things that made her such an amazing find in the first place. She has more backing vocals and more musical input from other instruments so the album isn't as quiet and easy to listen to as the first.
Equally, there were no seriously bad tracks on her first album but on this one, you can easily delete half, and then you have something that is much nicer to listen to. Certainly Peachy was a terrible choice for a closing song as it doesn't showcase her vocal ability or have anything to it which makes it memorable.
On a more positive note, the album begins wonderfully, the first three tracks are amazing, especially Where I Stood which for me is the standout track of this album. Later, Going North is equally good although it did take me a while to think that way.
The middle of the album is frankly boring, and when listening through it the first time, I did find myself losing track of when one song began and another ended. Warm Whispers is bearable but otherwise there isn't anything really worth downloading or listening to.
The Sound Of White is far better than this. Don't buy the album, but download the first few songs if you want to hear her new sound.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Where I Stood
2 100 Round the Bends
6 Warm Whispers
7 Wrong Girl
10 Going North
11 Forgive Me