Friday, November 23, 2007

Reviews:: Rebekah Higgs S/T

Canada is not short on talented chanteuses these days. I mean, besides the obvious examples - Feist, Emily Haines and Basia Bulat - there is a great collection of artists tucked away in the Bluenoser region worth discussing. Shane's already talked about some like Jill Barber and Catherine MacLellan, but for me the most exciting is Rebekah Higgs.

Higgs blends fantasy and reality perfectly; her nymph like appearance, electronic undercurrents and love filled lyrics transport the listener to a mystical place but the foundation of her songs and strength as a singer never waver. The opening number, Parables, dances around your headphones with an airy lightness but Rebekah's consistency and the strength of the arrangements gives you a nice glimpse of what's to come. The electronic textures add just the right amount of excitement to the song, and the instrumentation (banjo, strings and drums all take a turn as the dominant accompaniment) changes nicely over the course of the song, but her vocals and the guitar keep a steady hand on the reigns.

She switches to a more traditional folk sound on Mr. Weatherman, a simple two-minute ditty that strips things down and let's her voice draw you in. It's the type of song you let play over and over and even as the record rolls into Wedding One, you realize that even with the experimentation Higgs and her band use, she never jeopardizes melody. The nuances and subtle flourishes are always compliments to the song, they never overpower it.

Even the most experimental tracks (Apples and Winding Watch) maintain a solid structure. Apples starts with a boost of chaotic energy, distorted, looped vocals and static pulses but the machine gun percussion and electric guitar notes never break down completely into a jumbled mess. Much like old Manitoba tracks, all of the electronic peaks and valleys are still balanced out and Higgs quickly shifts back to more conventional songs on Don't Mind Me.

Don't Mind Me is a song that could be found on the radio tomorrow. The straight ahead arrangement and emotion are exactly what people look for in music. Higg's vocals are crisp and the song has just the right amount of sheen (think Martin, not Charlie) to refine the sounds but not lose the honesty. The simple keyboard that comes forward in the middle third of the song keeps you listening, before relinquishing control back to Higgs' melancholic statements.

Love Is, as you'd expect, is a love song but the long bended notes of the steel guitar and double vocals just make Higg's journey into unrewarding love so believable and sincere. Who hasn't fallen for the complete wrong person? And that's probably why I enjoy this record so much. Never once do her songs move away from the reality we all exist in, but they dance with the fantasies we all entertain.
MP3:: Love Is
MP3:: Parables

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Posted at 3:57 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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