Folk/pop

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Polly Coufos

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.

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