Little Miss Higgins is back with a stunning set of new songs and a new band. Fear not, however, for her distinctive sound is very much intact. On earlier albums, the arrangements were sometimes rather too different; here she has assembled a wonderfully coherent program without sacrificing anything. You will also marvel at her vocals, which are richer and warmer than ever. “Heavy Train” is classic LMH, with her bluesy vocals over a strummed acoustic guitar until the band joins in, with harmony vocals and a thudding bass drum. It’s also the first single. “(I Wanna go to) Your House Tonight” opens with cello & guitar and then some banjo and muted trumpet. Her request is sung in a charmingly direct fashion. Fats Waller’s “Keep A Song In Your Soul” adds that classic jazz sound she does so well. Her sense of humour is still intact as well, as “Chateau Poulet” will attest, with its depiction of rural life in French & English. The tender ballad, “Barns You Used To Dance In” laments a bygone era most effectively. The arrangement features a pedal steel guitar along with that muted trumpet. An “Early Morning Thief” steals her dreams away as the boys do a Sons of the Pioneers thing. She can write in a more sophisticated style as well, with “Restless Heart” a jazzy ballad, as exhibit A. A quick return to form is “Dead Cow Hill”, a rollicking tale of a party place in the country. “I Was At An Auction” is another keeper, with lots of room for her sly spoken asides. “Moonlit Picnic” has another classic LMH melody along with more harmony vocals & muted trumpet. Look out for the video of this one. The set ends with a road song, “Blue Moon Behind Me” with a euphonium taking the place of the trumpet. Her ability to take a rural moment and turn it into a song that anyone can appreciate remains undiminished. The Winnipeg Five deserve all the praise they get in the press release: Jimmie James McKee played that trumpet & euphonium; Eric Lemoine, pedal steel & banjo; Blake Thomson, guitar; Patrick Alexandre Leclerc, upright bass and Evan Friesen on drums. They helped so much they received co-writing credits on some of the songs as well as coming up with those wonderful arrangements. The web site is still www.littlemisshiggins.com and it shows that the CD launch tour will be at Hugh’s Room on Nov. 21 and in Hamilton at the Pearl Company the next night.

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