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Gary Higgins - Seconds (2009) FLAC
Artist: Gary Higgins
Title Of Album: Seconds
Year Of Release: 2009
Label: Drag City: DC395
Genre: Folk-Rock, Acoustic
Quality: FLAC (tracks)
Bitrate: lossless
Total Time: 42:31
Total Size: 275 mb
WebSite: amazon


01. Demons (4:01)
02. Little Squirrel (3:37)
03. Ten-Speed (7:14)
04. Mr. Blew (4:11)
05. When I Was Young (4:41)
06. 5 A.M. Trilogy: 5 A.M./5 A.M. Interlude/Folded Flag (12:55)
07. Don't Wanna Lose (5:52)

When singer/songwriter Gary Higgins' obscure 1973 folk masterpiece Red Hash was reissued by Drag City in 2005, it caused quite a stir in indie circles. The back-story on the reissue: Ben Chasny of Six Organs of Admittance had been deeply influenced by the record and turned everybody he cared about on to it. One of those people was D.C.'s Zach Cowie, who called and wrote every Gary Higgins he could find until he found the right one and reissued the album. It's a gorgeous record, a collection of beautifully but simply articulated psychedelic folk songs that reflect the time period; it's timeless and still resonates. Anyone who hasn't heard Seconds would understandably greet it with trepidation. After all, it has been 26 years since Red Hash and the man is much older; add to this the fact that second-chance efforts are just as likely to be flameouts as they are blessings. Seconds is definitely the latter. Higgins -- who performs with some of the same musicians who appeared on Red Hash -- is in excellent voice and his guitar-playing skills are sharp, too; but more than this, his songwriting skills haven't gone down a notch. He understands what went into the songs on Red Hash and retains that here. His is a non-judgmental, personal look at life that, while full of self-examination, also had a sense of humor as the balance of tragedy. His articulation of it all is gentle but unflinching.
The set opens with "Demons," a nakedly confessional song though it's dedicated to a friend. Higgins is singing about the toll of substance abuse, particularly alcohol and its self-deceptive qualities. Three acoustic guitars playing in different cadences, a bass, and keyboards (sounding alternately like an organ and a harpsichord) carry Higgins' delicate, slightly raspy baritone in waves to the listener. There is an incredible sense of vulnerability in his lyric lines, alternating between himself and others in his narrative. By contrast, "Little Squirrel," fueled by two layers of keyboards and Terry Fenton's flute, is almost a darkly humorous nursery rhyme. The keyboard sounds can be slightly cheesy, but it's because they are inexpensive instruments -- this is not a high-production recording, but it is an immediate, raw, and arresting one -- and are therefore endearing. "Ten-Speed" and "Mr. Blew" are among the recording's most poetic songs. They are different in subject: the former a folk poem that reflects love, nature, and the force of change; the latter a hardcore bit of self-reflection that can also be considered a cautionary tale. There is real melancholy in all this beauty, but at the same time there is a sense of wisdom and gratitude and, most of all, acceptance. That all said, it is the nearly 13-minute psychedelic folk suite "5 A.M. Trilogy" that is the greatest proof that Higgins not only still has it, but has it in spades. Compositionally, lyrically, and poetically, his writing here is a strange look into a window of timelessness -- past, present, and future; for all the travails in his life, Higgins has come out unbowed, with a view of the world as a difficult, often tragic, but magical place. His elegant sense of melody is the underlying factor in his utterly understated but captivating approach to songwriting. Seconds is a worthy successor to the classic Red Hash, but more than this, it is hopefully a new beginning for Higgins; god knows we need more songs like this in the world.

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Tags: Higgins, Seconds

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