Missy Higgins SolastalgiaBefore every young female artist wanted to be Courtney Barnett, they wanted to be Missy Higgins.

A lot has changed since Higgins burst onto the charts in 2004, but this record – her first of original material in six years – shows that she remains a vital artist. It’s no accident that the opening track is called Starting Again, “a search for a meaning” over some plaintive piano. Later, she declares “yesterday must die.”

Artistically, this is a new dawn for Higgins, and her most adventurous album yet. It’s obvious that she’s been doing a lot of thinking about the world since becoming a mum. There’s a feeling of impending doom, and you sense that the battle between hope and despair is as much internal as external. “I never felt so alive,” Higgins states in a song called Cemetery; then two tracks later, “the darkness comes,” and then it’s “the end of everything.” “I know the world’s gone mad,” she sings, urging listeners to “be the difference.”

Amidst the gloom is Futon Couch, a love song for her husband, Dan, which is a delightful earworm. Overall, Solastalgia is the sound of an artist pushing her boundaries, thematically and musically. The result is a triumph.

Solastalgia is out April 27 via EMI.

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