Well, if absence makes the heart grow fonder, Waifs fans are going to love this album. After more than three years, the Aussie group will release their sixth studio album, Temptation, on March 4, 2011. From their press release:
“Where do we take it from here?” sings Vikki Thorn on “Day Dreamer”, one of the most uplifting moments on The Waifs’ extraordinary sixth album, Temptation, in store March 4th independently through Jarrah Records (the label The Waifs co-own with John Butler) and MGM Distribution.
It’s a question the much-loved Australian band has asked itself several times in the 19 years since Thorn, her sister Donna Simpson and guitarist Josh Cunningham set off on their incredible journey.
A trip that began in a van in 1992, with the three troubadours playing gigs anywhere in Australia that would have them, has led The Waifs to multiple ARIA awards, platinum albums and successful tours across the world. The hard yards in those early days paid off in terms of their career, but also bound the three of them together as friends.
Josh, Donna and Vikki have all moved on in their personal lives since those formative years, whether through relationships, having children or relocating to different parts of the world, yet The Waifs’ journey continues. That ever-evolving trip, and the bond that has developed between them, is very much central to the emotion, sentiment and spirituality of the 11 songs on Temptation.
Temptation is the follow-up to 2006’s Sun, Dirt, Water, which the band recorded in Nashville and which reached No.2 in the ARIA album charts. That album represented a natural progression for The Waifs, one on which they expanded and experimented with their sound.
Temptation sees them stripping back, returning to their roots and playing an assortment of acoustic and electric instruments, joined once again by the established rhythm section of drummer David Ross Macdonald and bassist Ben Franz.
Temptation was recorded in November last year at Underwood Studios, a ramshackle old house-cum-studio in Simpson’s adopted home city of St Paul, Minneapolis.
I just gotta say it…this album is damn good. I can’t blame The Waifs for taking so much time off…there’s been babies, marriages, and all sorts of other life-happenings to keep the trio occupied, but it’s good to see them back in action. After 10 days in a basement in Minneapolis, they came out rocking just as hard as ever. As per Vicki Thorn,
“Traditionally recording has been stressful for us, we have three writers and rarely a collective vision. Maybe we have grown up a bit, learned a little patience and respect. This time the recording experience felt very relaxed and everything flowed. This album is less disparate than some of our previous albums. As if by moving, literally, so far from each other, our music has come back together. We have found our sound, our voices, our rhythms again and rediscovered our love for playing it.”
And you can really hear that collective love. Everyone was living together, playing together, and recording together, which gives a tangible sense of family to this album. Everyone plays their part, but no one is overbearing. We get to hear Thorn’s starkly beautiful track, “Buffalo” and Simpson’s incredibly catchy “Falling”, along with Cunningham’s voice in the title track. Weaving in and out of all of these tracks are long time touring mates Ben Franz (bass) and David McDonald (drums).
The band came together from all over (seriously, the US, Canada, AND Australia) for this labor of love, which ended up being a roots/rock, alt-country masterpiece. The harmonies of the Simpson sisters cannot be outdone and the instrumentation of Cunningham is utterly amazing, as always. I can see “Falling” becoming the major hit of this album very, very quickly. Check it out for yourself.
In a musical world of pop-wonders and rap stars, it’s refreshing to see someone going back to the beginning in a fashion that blues greats would be proud of. This album gets a solid B and a hearty “Welcome back, Waifs” from me.