We dared Aussie songwriter Missy Higgins
to tackle a few songs from her new album, The Ol Razzle Dazzle
, on our skillet of a rooftop last month. It was hot...really too hot to be messing around up there. Yet Missy didn't flinch, turning in a stirring performance of a few songs in their barest, truest form. In between, Higgins tells us about her new album, the unexpected break from music she recently needed, and how she overcame her writers block to conceive her strongest record to date. It's a sweaty, supremely sunny session...apply sunblock as needed!
In her first new song in five years - "Unashamed Desire" - Missy Higgins sings defiantly that "I've got nothing to hide".
It's a bold clarion call for where she's at these days. But until recently the acclaimed singer/songwriter was still keeping one thing secret ..."I quit".
After selling over a million albums and touring the world performing much loved songs like "Scar", "Steer" and "The Special Two" Missy privately decided to turn her back on music.
She did it without farewell tours or press releases. Instead she just told those closest to her that she was walking away from music and she got on with a new life. University. A share house. Some volunteer work. No photo's in the papers; no raves on the blogs.
This extraordinary decision wasn't made on a whim. In 2007 she'd released her sophomore album "On A Clear Night" in Australia to critical raves and more ARIA Awards. The follow up to her freakishly popular debut "The Sound Of White", her second album actually became the highest selling Australian release for that year and in 2008 Missy relocated to the U.S. to support its release there. Naturally that meant lots and lots of touring. After more than a year "Where I Stood" was inches from being certtified gold in the U.S. and she was selling out large theatres but the grind was taking its toll.
"I'd had more success than I'd ever dreamt of and somehow it didn't bring the happiness I thought it would, Higgins explains. "I guess I had a bit of an existential crisis - I thought, how do I become happy? If this doesnt give me fulfillment what will? And when you let go of something youve always attached to as your identity, what do you do? Id always been the singer or the musician or the songwriter. And when I quit music, it was terrifying. Who am I without it? It was scary but it was also important to find out.
The full story of that journey will finally be told when Missy's hugely anticipated third album "The Ol Razzle Dazzle" is finally released June 1.
Until then we have "Unashamed Desire" ... a comeback of the first order. Fresh in sound but unmistakably direct in attitude it's a song straight from the heart.