Archive for the ‘Missy Higgins’ Tag
For my second installment of ‘New Australian Music Alert’, please allow me to introduce you to Maddy Hay. Hailing from Melbourne, this jazz singing lady has a pretty spectacular voice which is used to sooth the listener.
She wrote the above song, Smoke In The City, aged sixteen and at boarding school – which reminds me a lot of how Missy Higgins started out. In fact, there’s another parallel between the two in the fact that their early works both did well in competitions. Whilst Missy’s All For Believing won her Triple J Unearthed, Maddy’s song reached the final three of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest which she has described as being an “absolute thrill”. Bless her.
I could continue this essay about the similarities between the two (they both went travelling before launching music careers in Aus), I must point out that they are musically different. The jazz roots of Maddy give her an edgier sound that I can only imagine would be a treat to hear live.
So there you go, that was a short introduction to Maddy Hay. Find out more at www.maddyhay.com
If I’m honest… I love it already.
I loved Bran Nue Dae as a film. I told you that you should love it too. Why? Read this and find out.
Anyway, after returning home from the bright lights of London and the excitement of having my photo taken with Tim Minchin (with my eyes closed, naturally), I decided I needed to get myself a copy of the soundtrack. Months passed and the day, eventually, came when I received the package (courtesy of friends as an eighteenth present!) containing the music to my new favourite film.
Twenty one songs make up this album. Ranging from just under two minutes to a few songs approaching the five minute mark, the songs were written for the original stage show created by Jimmy Chi twenty years ago. In fact, the end of the album features tracks recorded by members of the 1979 cast.
Vocals are provided by the majority of the film’s lead characters, which comes as no surprise given that Dan Sultan, Jessica Mauboy and Missy Higgins all come from a singing background. Ernie Dingo has several solo songs and even Geoffrey Rush offers his vocals on one track.
Sultan’s soul sounding voice opens the album with title track Bran Nue Dae. It’s the first of many songs that will entice you to singalong to them. A bit of religion and culture typical of Broome residents at the time is offered with All The Way Jesus, before returning to the uptempo Seeds That You Might Sow.
The first of the two songs featuring my favourite artist, Missy Higgins, is her collaboration with Ernie Dingo in Feel Like Going Back Home. It’s a happy song full of optimism and hope which does wonders for you if you’re in a bad mood!
Light A Light lets Mauboy hit the high notes though isn’t one of my favourites on the album. It’s a slower paced track thrown in for the emotional and narrative value of it, so it’s not hugely uplifting. In contrast, Nothing I Would Rather Be is contractually obliged to force a smile out of you. “There’s nothing I would rather be than to be an aborigine” the whole cast sing in chorus. It’s a quality show tune that you can really envisage being performed both in a local theatre in the Australian bush, or on a professional West End stage.
Whilst not every track is to my liking (I find Is You Mah Baby to be too harsh on my ears), there are plenty of quality songs to make this a worthwhile purchase if you’ve seen the film. The random addition of Rolf Harris’ Six White Boomers shows a unique take on a Christmas song which is sung in the expected Harris style with varying voices and percussion.
Afterglow is truly haunting and every time I listen to it, I am taken back to the swimming scene in the film where it is used. Sung by Missy Higgins, her voice compliments the tone perfectly.
Both Listen To The News and Stand By Your Man are great show tunes once more. They start off slower before building pace and power to add to the suspense and effect of the songs.
All in all, if you’ve seen (and enjoyed!) the film, it is definitely a great album to add to your collection. Without the knowledge of the film’s storyline, I’d advise against buying this album as you’d probably end up rather confused. I’m not saying don’t buy it. I’m saying watch the film first!
1. Bran Nue Day — Dan Sultan
2. All The Way Jesus — Jessica Mauboy
3. Seeds That You Might Sow — Dan Sultan
4. Feel Like Going Back Home — Ernie Dingo, Missy Higgins
5. Light A Light — Jessica Mauboy, Brendon Boney
6. Nothing I Would Rather Be — Bran Nue Dae Cast
7. Nyul Nyul Girl — Dan Sultan
8. Broome Love Theme — Bran Nue Dae Gypsy Orchestra
9. Long Way Away From My Country — Ernie Dingo
10. Is You Mah Baby — Ernie Dingo
11. Six White Boomers — Rolf Harris
12. Zorba’s Dance (Chooky Dancers Remix) — David Bridie
13. Afterglow — Missy Higgins
14. Listen To The News — Ernie Dingo
15. Black Girl — Dan Sultan
16. Stand By Your Man — Jessica Mauboy
17. Nothing I Would Rather Be — Brendon Boney, Geoffrey Rush
18. Road Movie Medley — Bran Nue Dae Gypsy Orchestra
19. Child Of Glory — Bob Faggetter
20. Going Back Home — Stephen Pigram
21. Bran Nue Dae — Jimmy Chi
Have you ever seen an Aboriginal Musical Comedy? Nope? Well I hadn’t either until I turned up at The Barbican Centre on Thursday evening to see Bran Nue Dae as part of the London Australian Film Festival. I knew a lot about the film prior to seeing it, undoubtedly this was because one of the main characters was played by my favourite Australian ever: Missy Higgins.
The plot is fairly straightforward. A young guy, Willie, runs away from his religious boarding school in Perth trying to get back to his home town of Broome. (These are Australian places for those who are a little clueless) He runs into his wayward Uncle Tadpole on his first night on the run and the two of them join forces to make the journey home. Without money (Tadpole is a bit of an alcoholic) they manage to guilt trip two backpackers into giving them a lift to Broome which is “just up the road”.
Missy Higgins plays Annie, a crazy hippy chick with a slightly more prudent German boyfriend. Missy’s not the only well known singer to appear in the film, Australian Idol contestant Jessica Mauboy and another Aussie Singer (whose been likened to Elvis) Dan Sultan also have major roles. The head teacher of the boarding school who chases after Willie is played by Geoffrey Rush (Pirates of The Carribean), whilst Ernie Dingo takes the role of Tadpole. Oh, and Magda Szubanski cameos as a weird shop owner with a gun.
Songs are used throughout the film to aid the plot and generally make you smile. Whilst the two songs Missy sings on (The stunning Afterglow, and her duet with Ernie Dingo on Feel Like Going Back Home) are really lovely, the one lyric that has really stuck in my head is “There’s nothing I would rather be, than to be an aborigine”. It’s a more comical song that resulted in an interesting dance routine on screen with choreographed, synced leg kicking.
At the end of the film, Willie predictably returns home to get the girl of his dreams Roxy (Mauboy) and then there’s a bit of a twist that is rather hilarious. I shan’t ruin it for you as I genuinely recommend this film to you all and think you should watch it. Admittedly it’s not going to ever make it to general release here. Nor will it be out on DVD. But if you ever get the chance to watch it, DO.
Oh, I feel I have to add a few words about what else happened at this screening. I met Tim Minchin. Hence the photo. He had introduced the film and hung around. He was talking with friends about how they were going to arrange themselves into cars to get home when we interrupted and got a photo with him. He was very sweet and called my rather large, slow camera “Old School”. He also trod on my foot.
But yes… Bran Nue Dae is my new favourite film. It should be yours too.
Like the majority of Missy’s singles; the CD title is not just ‘Steer’. No, it has those added two letters ‘EP’ that don’t seem to appear on other releases over here. I’ve discussed the title track in my On A Clear Night album review which only leaves three other songs for me to comment on.
Before I even get started on reviewing the music I must mention the artwork on this physical release. The case is one of those cardboard ones that immediately makes it feel more special than being surrounded by plastic. The font is the same as is used on all promotional work from On A Clear Night; all capital letters with ‘HIGGINS’ being indented on the second line. In the right of the front photo is Missy in profile smiling as though she’s been mesmerised by something. Something that’s a night so totally clear perhaps? Perhaps it’s something that means you can control where you go and you can steer? Just a thought. Anyway, once opened there’s a lovely photo of a cloudy blue sky with a few birds flying around freely. And I guess being free is part of what Steer is all about.
Dusty Road seems to be about empowering women, I guess. “Sometimes men abuse your power” is a line that is followed by the chorus about how to get off the ‘Dusty Road’ of abuse. Maybe. I’m not entirely sure about this song to be honest. Don’t get me wrong, I love singing along to it (it’s one of Missy’s guitary upbeat tracks) but I don’t think I really “get” it.
A song that I do connect with is The Battle. Written about a supposed battle with another songwriter, the lyrics show Missy’s genius. Beginning with “I don’t need a slap in the face / I’m already at the bottom of the sea”, the use of metaphor is typically impressive. A slow song played on acoustic guitar, it allows for Missy to sing a few “oooohh’s” displaying her vocal talents.
The final track is asterisked as a Demo. It was produced by Missy herself and is titled Leave A Note. I love the rawness of this song. It’s full of emotion. It appears to be some sort of plea for someone to stop leaving without telling anyone. At face level that’s what I took from it anyway. Although as with most pieces of songwriting by Missy, there’s likely to be a few other more complex interpretations that could be found.
One of my favourite EPs. And definitely one of my favourite physical CDs for it’s beautiful sleeve.
I’m not sure how it began. I’m not certain why it began. I’m not particularly aware of when it began. But once it did begin, I knew there was no way it was going to end any time soon.
I love Australia. And no, it’s not just the alliterative clichés of the sun, sea and sand that I adore. There’s just so much about that country that makes me want to live there.
As you might have alright inferred from my blog; I love a lot of Australian singer songwriters. Missy Higgins first and foremost. But I’ve also managed to see Pete Murray, Ben Lee, Kate Miller-Heidke and Lenka all play live in the UK. Not forgetting Lisa Mitchell tomorrow night. I’m not sure if I love them because they’re Australian, or if Australian singer songwriters are just of a standard that I find more preferable to the over-commercialised stuff over here. The quality of some of their songwriting amazes me.
It’s not just music. I love Australian radio too. I get the Hamish and Andy podcast everyday and listen to it on my way to school. Their activities amuse me whilst keeping me up to date with the latest news stories in the world of 2day FM. At this point, I shall make it clear that I am not a fan of the other key 2day FM show. Kyle and Jackie O are so not to my taste. They are just wrong. But I love a bit of H&A to make me laugh on the bus whilst others look on as though I’m a complete freak (on occasions I’ve had to justify my laughter to randoms as I say “It’s a podcast. I promise”.)
And as for Aussie TV? I was gutted when Rove ended. It was always one of those things I thought ‘when I’m next in Australia I want to be in the audience for that’. Now I can’t. I used to watch the 7PM Project a bit until it became unavailable in my region. I YouTube the occasional Spicks & Specks episode and laughed my way through all of the last series of Thank God You’re Here. Then there’s Neighbours that I need not go into as my post the other day did a pretty good job of summarising my obsession there.
Comedian wise, it’s all about Tim Minchin. I’m seeing him introduce Missy Higgins’ film ‘Bran Nue Dae’ later this month and that’s rather exciting. I saw Adam Hills last year and found him rather hilarious as well. He picked up on my constant tweeting and asked me how I was finding the show. I said the least interesting reply I could think of – “it’s good” – and he quickly realised I was not going to be a funny audience member and moved on. Through Rove I discovered lots of Aussie comedic talent, but I none of them really caught on. I found Peter Hellier funny, but didn’t quite get Hughesy’s hilarity and don’t get me started on the woman who replaced him. She was not funny fullstop. Her moaning was worse than his.
On my iGoogle page, not only do I have BBC national headlines, I also have the Sydney Morning Herald national headlines. And I check their entertainment section way more often than I check the BBC one. And I like some of their printed media too. Australian Vogue: Entertaining + Travel remains my favourite magazine in the world, despite me not being able to get hold of a copy since Borders closed. I dream of working for that magazine. Even an internship there would be amazing.
And as for the country itself? It’s just amazing. I’ve been fortunate enough to go there seven times and hope to return reasonably soon. I’ve even been slightly swayed to go to a uni that offers Study Abroad in Aus. This is, of course, after I researched Unis in Aus and discovered that I didn’t love it enough to spend about sixty grand doing an entire degree there.
I always loved Sydney but found Melbourne surprisingly homely on my last trip. I got my scuba diving qualifications in Port Douglas and the scenery in the Whitsundays is hard to beat. Seeing wild dolphins on Hyamms Beach, a koala sleeping in a tree along the Great Ocean Road and whales casually swimming near the Great Barrier Reef. What more could you want?
So yes, you can laugh at my Australia obsession. But it’s a pretty big obsession. I just hope you’ve gained a bit more of an insight into it from this. One day, I will live there.
I don’t know what I’ve done. Or if I like what I’ve begun.
Those are the first lines that greet your ears on Missy Higgins’ second album On a Clear Night. And already, I like what’s begun. I love these lyrics. I love these songs. I love this album.
Where I Stood is written in Missy’s classic style drawing at all your heartstrings. There’s been discussion as to whether the story that’s being told is that of a relationship that’s broken up, or if it’s a bit more complex and is actually about giving a child up for adoption. Lyrics such as “She will love you more than I could/She who dares to stand where I stood” leave it entirely up to your own interpretation. It’s the ambiguity in Missy’s craftsmanship that I love. Her songs rarely tell a straight forward story. There are always lines that mean different things to different listeners – making each song even more personal.
Missy gets her guitar out in 100 Round the Bends. It’s upbeat for Missy. I’m struggling to find a remotely depressing lyric in it. Admittedly, it’s pretty clear that Missy was, perhaps, in a better place when she wrote this album. Songs like this would never have fitted in on her debut album. It’s just too… happy. Yes, the lyrics progress to sing about how this great relationship failed and hence the happiness ends. But the chorus returns once more; the guitar kicks in and all negativity is forgotten.
I have to admit that when I first heard Steer I wasn’t entirely convinced. It was the first single off the album and I had a few versions of it on my iTunes, so it kept replaying itself. I was so excited to hear new songs from Missy that I listened to it a lot in a short space of time and the novelty soon wore thin. It didn’t astound me lyrically and so, for about a year after its release, I often found myself skipping past it on my iPod. Nowadays, I’ve rediscovered it for the great song it really is and could happily listen to it on repeat.
Sugarcane. The most beautiful song I’ve ever heard. Wow. I love every second of it. It’s the most played song on my iTunes and I can’t ever see myself getting bored of it. The lyrics are beautifully crafted to haunt you. The first verse is about abuse of a young girl. The second about an older girl in a peepshow who dances behind a one-way mirror to try and convince herself that people aren’t watching. If only the young girl had the ability to do the same. But she doesn’t. And so she must “Run. Run fast. Sugarcane”. This is, of course, just my interpretation. And as I’ve said, you can find a thousand different meanings from each song of Missy’s. If I remember correctly, it was inspired by a photo a ballerina with a ghostly figure behind it, hence the song beginning with the metaphor of the ‘Baby Ballerinas hiding somewhere in the corner”. I can’t tell you enough how beautiful this song is. If you take anything from this review, or even this whole blog. It should be to have a listen of this song. Don’t just casually listen to it though. You need to focus on the lyrics and the vocals alike to soak up everything you can from this work of beauty.
I like the verses in Secret. The chorus has never been so appealing, but the vocal ability of Missy allows me to forget about that. It was written about a relationship that the speaker wants to be open about, whilst the other party wants it to remain as… well, as a secret. Clearly this relationship isn’t going to work out so well. Cue long contemplative lyrics from Higgins.
Perhaps the best vocal performance on the album comes on Warm Whispers. This album version doesn’t display the true capacity of Missy’s voice but this YouTube clip does it a lot more justice. The length that she can hold a note for amazes me. As do the metaphors in this song. I mean, she’s weeping “warm honey and milk”. Who else weeps warm honey and milk? Nobody I know of.
Missy can play the piano amazingly. But that doesn’t mean she’s at all bad at guitar playing either. As shown in The Wrong Girl where she casually strums away as she sings. Angela, a song inspired by a black and white photo Missy once saw in a hotel she was staying in, is also played on guitar. Missy is way too musically talented for my liking. She makes my one song that I can play on the piano (The First Noel – perfect for all occasions) look entirely worthless. Which I guess isn’t that hard. But well, she’s just all round musically talented.
The big break-up song of the album is Peachy. Each verse passes the blame around as to whose fault the break up is, with the chorus referring to how the ex says that life is ‘Peachy’ without her. It’s a great sing-along track; you can scream your heart out in the chorus and briefly regain your breath in the verses before breaking out into passionate song once more when the chorus returns.
The majority of this album was written in Broome (a town in rural Western Australia) which allowed for Missy to focus solely on songwriting. It was one evening when she looked up at the sky and saw how beautiful it was that she came up with the album’s title. The natural beauty of the landscape where the album was written comes across in the songs that were produced. Going North sings of going to explore new opportunities elsewhere. In this case, ‘elsewhere’ is north. Whereabouts ‘North’ is, I don’t know. But I reckon it’s somewhere rather nice. Apparently ‘answers fall like leaves’ there. I’d quite like that. Maybe one day I’ll find somewhere like that myself.
As the album ends, the final song is rawer than all the other tracks. It was recorded in Mitchell Froom’s front room and if you listen carefully, you can hear an airplane flying by towards the end of the song. There’s no need for autotuning or adding effects to Missy’s songs. Even in their rawest forms they are beautiful. The lyrics are about a man who is, quite literally, begging for forgiveness on his knees. Without much to focus on aside from Missy’s strong vocals and the background acoustic guitar, you can really feel as though you are able to connect with this character in the song. You can genuinely feel his desperation as she sings “Take this one fallen man on his knees. Saying please forgive me”.
So that concludes my review of ‘On a Clear Night’. It’s probably my favourite album ever. I hope that you can connect with the album as I did and see past the heaviness of the lyrics to discover their true beauty.
I recently thought to myself about how I could well be the most obsessive Missy Higgins fan to have never seen her play live. Anyone agree?
DISCLAIMER: Before I begin any of my reviews of Missy I feel I need to point out that I quite genuinely adore her music. She is the reason that music became such a big part of my life. Her lyrics inspired me at times when my life lacked inspiration and I really do love every song she’s ever written. Hence, you are unlikely to get any form of a balanced or unbiased review from me. Missy’s music is one of those Marmite-esque things that you either love or hate. For me, it’s 100% the former, but I’m aware that my view isn’t shared by all and you’re more than welcome to respond with moans about her “boring” voice or “depressing” lyrics. I think she’s utterly amazing. End of.
I could quite happily write an essay about every one of the ninety six songs by Missy Higgins on my iTunes. I’m not going to. But I could. Each burst of her voice enchants me. Her lyrics leave me simultaneously astounded and engrossed. The sound of the piano chords that she effortlessly plays makes me want to learn an instrument.
If you know me personally, then you’ll be more than aware of my love for Missy’s music. You should also know how disappointed I am to have never seen her play live. She’s not visited the UK since 2006, back when my super-fandom was only in it’s youth. Alas, I was on holiday for her London dates and wasn’t yet desperate enough to travel the country to see her. This is no longer the case. I would now travel anywhere in Europe to see her sing. Anywhere. With the temptation to fly to America just for one gig becoming ever more tempting. However, let’s go back to before 2006. Before I had even heard of her. Back in 2003, Missy released her first EP.
The Missy Higgins EP begins with Greed For Your Love. Bursts of Missy’s powerful voice are intertwined with verses full of metaphors screaming of heartache. It is a track, quite simply, about wanting to be loved. Clichéd? Maybe. But you need to realise that Missy was still young when she started out.
In fact, All For Believing was written when Missy was just fifteen. Winning the Triple J Unearthed radio competition in 2001, Missy then took a year out backpacking around Europe before returning to her music. The song commences with haunting vocals accompanied with some piano playing. Lyrics are sung with such honesty that make it clear why it was awarded the radio prize.
Missy’s voice immediately greets you in Falling. Her voice has a power that can overwhelm you without sounding forced. “Don’t say/What you’re about to say” are the opening lyrics. The use of the second person enhances the song, making you feel as though it’s being sung to you. Missy’s music is personal. You can connect with lyrics and often find yourself completely empathising with the words that float from Missy’s mouth.
The Special Two is one of the heavier songs written by Missy. She sings of childhood dreams being destroyed. Yet all hope is not lost as the chorus tells of there being someone else who will always be there to hold your hand throughout life. Not scared of being too deep in her lyrics, The Special Two poses philosophical questions. Asking “Is it better to tell and hurt, or lie to save their face?” Missy continues by saying the best thing to do is to never have done it in the first place. Which is better than any answer I could ever come up with. Could you answer it any better?!
This EP was just four songs. Four songs that would be the beginning of a music career. A music career that would become a huge part of my life.