2003 – Jarrah
The fourth album from Australian country-folksters The Waifs, Up All Night brings in a much more rock base to their well crafter acoustic melodies than was heard on earlier releases like Shelter Me. I mean, kicking off with the toe-tapping Fisherman’s Daughter we’re instantly given the kind of country/blues kick that makes this little group so filled with fun and beauty, and the rolling road of musical gratification doesn’t slow down from there at all.
The guitars twang with a disctinctive cadence and accent that marks out something unique in these players, and the Simpson sister’s actual singing accents bring out a beautiful sense of being rooted in their music. I mean, can almost hear the sun beating down on some arid Western Australian highway when these gutsy yet intimate vocals come streaming through the stereo. The lyrics too, apart from actually mentioning the specific locations by name, evoke a certain sense of Australian-ness that is touching to the soul of this reviewer. I’m sure there are those out there in other countries to whom this keen feeling is not apparent, but I think its position at number one of the Billboard Heatseekers chart will run contrary to that.
The playing on here certainly can’t be faulted with the guitar lines being handled excellently and the use of the harmonica being sparing enough to make its haunting solos welcome each time they appear, neither can the actual singing and harmonies be described as anything but spot-on. The lyrical construction too is well handled predominantly avoiding grandiose cliché in favour of understatement (“you mean stuff to me”) and being easily assimilated into the mental catalogue of ‘things I can sing along to’. I mean, London Still and Lighthouse just work their way so easily into the brain and roll so easily of the tongue.
There is one downside to this otherwise immaculate album, however, and that is when the Simpson sisters are given a backseat to guitarist Josh Cunningham on Since I’ve Been Around and again on the title track. Never will I understand the inclusion of these two almost boring tracks on such a wonderfully exciting record. I mean, his nearing flat vocals pale in comparison to the rest of the record and even the musical construction has very little to it as it runs through some rather basic chordal structures and doesn’t let the guitar lines work themselves up to the twinkling beauty of something like Three Down.
I suppose these two tracks really aren’t all that bad, however, and they do certainly serve their purpose on the record, and in comparison to a great deal of music they really are rather special. It’s just that in comparison to the rest of this particular album they don’t quite stack up to the same standard.
Elsewise, Up All Night really does just charm from beginning to end as it winds its way through a whole melange of interesting and original folk-ballads and blues laden roots rock and roll. I’ve really got to recommend it as one of the higher achievements of Australian folk-rock music, up there with the likes of John Butler and Archie Roach. A must have for fans of the Australian music scene, fans of any form of folk music, fans of music in general. Really, give yourself and treat and give it a listen.
And here’s the clip for the brilliant London Still.
- Shelter Me – The Waifs (ljfacesthemusic.wordpress.com)
- Australian Music (jasonhewitt77.wordpress.com)
- Music of Australia (culturaustraliana.wordpress.com)
- Archie Roach To Speak At AWME (noise11.com)
- Eternal Nightcap – The Whitlams (ljfacesthemusic.wordpress.com)
- “There is No Good Australian Music!” (theabstractparadox.wordpress.com)
- 10 must read Australian and International music blogs (raindropsandrooftops.com)