Taking her love for Australian music and elegantly breathing new life into some classic Australian songs, Missy Higgins has teamed the release of the album with a self-penned booklet of essays. Each song is accompanied by cleverly articulated article on what the song means to her and how it has ended up on the album. Simple photographs illustrate each page to connect the theme of Australia that echoes through the album.
Opening with Paul Dempsey’s ‘You Only Hide’, Higgins takes an agonising ballad and makes it simple, yet still melancholic. It is easy to compare the two, however with this song Higgins has chosen to keep her version as close to the original.
For ‘Shark Fin Blues’ by The Drones she removes the agonisingly gritty guitar from the original, slows it right down and replaces it with slow piano. She has some how turned it into a rather pretty song.
Accompanying Perry Keys’ ‘NYE’ with a rather humorous personal story of a drug-induced New Years Eve party, a new generation of listeners is introduced to the relatively unknown Keys and his unique take on the revelry of New Years Eve. It’s a cleverly written tune that breathes new life to a common theme.
Slim Dusty’s ‘The Biggest Disappointment’ features Dan Sultan bringing the only country track to the album, a humorous ballad of being a black sheep in the family is a sweet tune, Sultan harmonising perfectly in the chorus.
The real hidden gem of OZ is Paul Kelly’s ‘Before Too Long’; slowed right down with a strings arrangement highlighting the underlying true meaning of the song (which when really listened to is rather creepy) the string arrangement sits perfectly with this unusual number. Slowing it right down so that the listener can really examine the song is a stroke of genius.
When recording OZ, Missy Higgins could have chosen to go down the road of rehashing power ballads and pub songs, instead she chose a different path of songs that are a little less known but equally brilliant. It’s refreshing that there is not a single Hunters and Collectors or Cold Chisel song in sight, instead Higgins has stuck to songs that she could make her own, rather than singing old songs that now belong in the public domain that are sung time and time again. It’s a bold move, but a move that paid off.
Reviewer: Amanda Starkey