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Rebekah Higgs

Odd Fellowship

(Hidden Pony; US: 23 Aug 2011; UK: 23 Aug 2011)

Rebekah Higgs – a singer-songstress from Halifax, Canada – begins her sophomore album with the eerie “Little Voice”. The track begins innocently enough, but slowly turns sour. It’s a tortured song of deep-rooted insanity disguised as a sweet little love song. It begins: “There’s a busy bee / Humming merrily / And your little voice / Sings the melody / You’re the only one who loves me / Full on”. Complete with “bum, bah, bahs” the track plays out with creeping intensity until the last thirty seconds whereupon Higgs repeats the line: “You’re the only one / Who loves me / Full on”. It might not hit you right away, but with multiple listens, that line, repeated in the manner it is, becomes frighteningly off-putting. It’s the kind of psychotic moment that most folk artists dare not tread. Although there’s a possibility that this eeriness was completely unintentional, “Little Voice” stands as a great album opener to a fairly impressive follow-up solo effort.


The entire album is pleasant enough to get through. It will even tempt you to indulge in a few more listens, but ultimately stalls beyond its superior opening track. “Gosh, Darn, Damn” is a catchy number that unfortunately suffers from some pretty bad lyrics like: “I keep my chin up so I don’t look so sad / Even when I’m feeling bad / ‘Cause you found another gal”. The bad lyrics don’t linger throughout the record, but occasionally you’ll get a strong whiff of lines that could have been articulated in a more poetic manner.


Ultimately, Odd Fellowship suffers the fate of unoriginal ubiquity, which can be easily mistaken for every other Tom, Dick and Jenny Lewis out there. It’s unfortunate, because Rebekah has some definite appeal, but, unfortunately, there’s nothing here to magnify that appeal into something uniquely discernable. There’s not much that you can point to that gives the impression she’s beginning to embark upon a magnificent musical career filled with notoriety and recognition. As astute a songwriter as she can sometimes be, very few boundaries are pushed, or circumvented. Perhaps the one well-calculated divergence comes from “Shoop” (no, it’s not a cover of either Salt-n-Pepa’s seminal hip hop track or the Whitney Houston disaster). It’s a French-language quirky number with butterfly vibraphones, looped vocal tracks, and spacey psychedelic synths and guitars. More tracks like this could single out Higgs as the new emerging Björk-esque ingénue. But sadly, this is only one track in the entire album, and could very likely be a fluke. Odd Fellowship, despite its many fumbles, is a pretty good new album from a veritable talent that you will ultimately forget about in two months’ time.

Rating:

Enio is an MA graduate in Music Sociology who has written his thesis on the cultural regulation of Jamaican dancehall music by the Stop Murder Music campaign. He was born and raised in Toronto, Canada, and has an honours BA degree from the University of Toronto in Equity Studies and Sociology. Enio enjoys understanding the cultural implications of music and how music reinforces cultural identity.


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