(Michael Higgins – guitar; Jay Anderson – acoustic bass; Adam Nussbaum – drums)
This music, coming out of ordinary places—the passing of one’s parents, the death of a beloved niece, summer turning to autumn, the need for forgiveness—takes these common materials and transforms them into art of uncommon depth and attractiveness. Michael Higgins, a guitar instructor, performer, and studio owner in the Northeast, enlists the talents of friends and players Anderson and Nussbaum to great effect.
The vibe here is one of quiet intensity. The mood enables Higgins to display his attractive single-note soloing and chordal effects on what sounds like a hollow body electric guitar with a great deal of charm. A kind of intimate wistfulness suffuses the proceedings. It’s almost as if the leader is there in your living room gently declaiming his take on the sorrows and joys of our wondrous world, relaying his pathos-filled tales with great feeling and authenticity.
It’s obvious that Higgins has endured his share of suffering; but it’s equally obvious that he hasn’t let his troubles defeat him. Instead, there seems to be an ineffable place deep with that he calls upon to not only assuage the blues, but to transform them into something healing. This tendency shines out most clearly in “If Only I Knew,” a heartfelt blues that sums up the vagaries of the human condition: we just don’t know, and we suffer because of our contingency, but that shouldn’t defeat us. As the saying goes, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.
On the strength of this remarkable recording, Michael Higgins deserves the widest possible hearing. May his tribe increase.
The Last Farwell
The Little Ones
When Colors Turn
The Moon and the Lady Dancing
In the Outdoors
If Only I Knew
In Love in Vain
– Jan P. Dennis