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Missy Higgins – The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle

Catherine May


Five years is a long time in music. And five years is how long it’s been since Missy Higgins released her last album. And after the long wait, which saw Higgins turn her back on music for a couple of years, she’s returned to the eyes of the public with The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle.

Opening with Set Me On Fire, it’s immediately clear that the five years away have definitely done no harm to maturing Higgins’ craft. The chorus repetition of “Melody you’re the only one who saves me” is beautifully poetic and album co-producer Butterfly Boucher’s backing vocals add to the atmospheric song that appears to be autobiographic. There’s a jazzier sound to Hello, Hello which is reminiscent of Higgins’ early work such as the darker Casualty. Continuing the multi-genre mission, Watering Hole is deeply soulful and may appear incomparable to Higgins’ other songs but the lyrics are still typical of Higgins’ metaphoric style.

When Unashamed Desire was released in April, critics were quick to talk about the change in Higgins’ sound. Yes, there are noticeable changes, but after five years of new life experiences and time to reevaluate your music, surely it’s not unexpected? And anyway, there’s plenty on the album to ease in those wanting to be reminded why Higgins became successful in the first place.

Everyone’s Waiting is a delicate piano track that quickly establishes that putting Higgins in front of some keys automatically produces something incredibly beautiful. Lyrically, it reminded me of Sugarcane from Higgins’ previous album with its powerful description of a lead character whose emotions are captured perfectly in the song.

I’ve been a fan of If I’m Honest and Tricks for a while since seeing them in videos of live performances and, now recorded in the Nashville studio, they don’t disappoint at all. As for the occasionally-played-live Cooling of the Embers, the delicate piano gently supports the equally delicate lyrics telling the sad story of the passing of Higgins’ grandmother to create something simultaneously beautiful and heartbreaking.

So is it something completely new from Higgins? I’m going to put myself out there and say ‘No’. It may be an album about the struggle to get back into music and tracks such as Temporary Love may have seemed out of place on her debut or even slightly out of place next to 100 Round The Bends, but they album is still undeniably Higgins. With her distinctive voice, deeply honest lyrics and innate ability to craft a well-balanced song, Missy Higgins has certainly come back to the music scene with a matured version of what she does best. Let’s just hope she doesn’t disappear again…