From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
Missy Higgins “On a Clear Night” (Reprise Records)
Missy Higgins’ sophomore album avoids slumping on the strength of her throaty voice, tuneful songs and finely crafted lyrics.
With her piano skills and pixie looks, the Australian singer-songwriter drew comparisons to Vanessa Carlton when she hit the U.S. music scene in 2005. Her follow-up to “The Sound of White” includes a couple of piano ballads, but sounds more reminiscent of Sarah McLachlan. Higgins’ accented, enigmatic vocals, acoustic guitar strumming and earthy lyrics drive her second disc.
The opening track, “Where I Stood,” was featured on “Grey’s Anatomy,” but despite a few clever turns of phrase, it is a fairly bland breakup song. The feisty, hip-hoppish “100 Around the Bends” keeps her on a predictable course.
But the album picks up with the perky empowerment anthem “Steer,” the sexy, bluesy “Secret” and the earnestly lovely ballad “Warm Whispers.” The bouncy beat of “Peachy” contrasts interestingly with the sharp-tongued, scolding lyrics pointed at an ex-lover.
For the most part, “On a Clear Night” effectively showcases Higgins’ distinctive voice, musicianship and songwriting skills, the elements that make her stand out from the rest of the pop music crowd.