Ironbark The Waifs Jarrah/MGM Twenty-five years into their career, the Waifs have crafted a double album that comes closest to capturing the heartwarming charm they exude in concert. The quality may not quite last the distance for the full 25 tracks, but Ironbark contains more great moments than they have gathered in one collection at any point previously.
Recorded in the kitchen of Josh Cunningham’s house near Moruya on the NSW south coast, Ironbark is filled with the joy of making music for its own sake.
Cunningham, Donna Simpson and Vikki Thorn and their longstanding auxiliary Waifs Ben Franz and David MacDonald move between folk, blues and country with ease, the slapdash approach building the image of them simply taking turns around the table sharing a musical dialogue.
The title track opens with one verse from each of the trio. In less than two minutes their beautiful harmonies allow them to set the musical template, while their strong Australian accents on the lead vocals make obvious their origins. The folk tradition is carried in the powerful ballads Dirty Little Bird and Syria, their emerging country/Americana influence is demonstrated to great effect on Not the Lonely, while their infectious pop smarts are on display on Something’s Coming. In this already impressive company, Cunningham delivers a couple of solo moments that all but steal the show. Song for Jacqueline is a gorgeous love song to his wife, Jackie, and The Shack is a spoken-word piece recounting his idyllic childhood in a one-room dwelling.