On her sophomore release, On a Clear Night, Missy Higgins makes an admirable attempt at convincing the listener that she's putting forward something new, but unfortunately most of the time she's just treading well-worn ground.
Higgins has already been billed as "Australia's Vanessa Carlton" and that label seems appropriate for the first half of the album, where she sticks mostly to straight-ahead pop ballads. She sounds like a dead ringer for Sarah McLachlan at times, further accentuating the feeling that the first seven or so songs on the album aren't anything new. She even goes as far to convey she's worried more about sounding pretty than really belting out the songs.
The album finally turns around with "Angela," which has a folky sound that is more interesting than the album's straight-forward pop blah. Acoustic guitar replaces piano, and banjo and mandolin are well-integrated on the track. She carries across the last four tracks, which actually make for a compelling listen. Her voice seems sharper and she demands your attention.
On a Clear Night isn't necessarily bad per se, but lacks originality. It seems as though Missy Higgins could have a good, if less lucrative, career as a folk artist. Still, considering the popularity that she has garnered in Australia, it's not a surprise that she's chosen mostly to pursue the pop route.