Review of “Giving Gifts” by Christian Schaeffer of Riverfront Times

by | Sep 5, 2019

Category: Audio | Press

… If the Texas Room is Wall’s main concern these days, he still finds time to lend his production and percussive talents to more straight-ahead fare. He appears on Natalie Huggins’ latest batch of songs, the three-track maxi-single “Giving Gifts.” Huggins, an emotional pianist and expressive, acrobatic vocalist, formerly performed as part of the strings-and-piano trio Wax Wine and recorded a sextet of Wallace Stevens poems with the Rats & People Motion Picture Orchestra, but this collection finds her in her purest state: facing love’s slings and arrows with breathy intensity and dramatic instrumentation.

A sawing string section and Micah Mickles’ insistent drum programming give a steady, suspenseful pulse to “Giving Gifts.” Huggins’ message can get lost in the clouds when she pushes her voice to its highest range, as she does in parts of “Lullaby,” though she’s more direct on “Typically Funny.” These are more performance pieces than pop songs, and that suits Huggins’ theatricality. Casual listeners, though, may be thrown by the tracks’ tendencies toward halting tempos and ruminative songcraft.

Natalie Huggins


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