Ironbark

The Waifs

Ironbark
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Ironbark

The Waifs

A powerful yet delicate anthem, confirming that “we were born to survive,” Ironbark is a rarity among the bands catalogue, featuring Josh, Vikki and Donna’s vocals equally throughout the one track.


For 25 years fans have listened in awe to The Waifs' stories with the three voices of Vikki, Donna and Josh introducing us to characters and places that we could only dream of. Ironbark is a little different, it’s a celebration and a tribute to the fans, for their involvement in their career and being the very reason the band are still playing music together 25 years on.

Ironbark is a double album, featuring 25 songs, made for their incredibly loyal and loving fan base, for those who have been there from the start, and for those who have become fans of the band along the way. The album was recorded in true Waifs style in a make-shift studio in the unfinished kitchen of Josh Cunningham’s rural retreat on the NSW South Coast across two weeks.

Track listing:

CD1

  1. Ironbark
  2. Higher Ground
  3. Not The Lonely
  4. I Won’t Go Down
  5. Important Things
  6. Lion And Gazelle
  7. Done And Dusted
  8. Dirty Little Bird
  9. Grand Plans
  10. Something’s Coming
  11. Syria
  12. Amazing Everything
  13. The Shack
  14. Long Way From Home

CD2

  1. Song For Jacqueline
  2. Standing Strong
  3. Sugar Mama
  4. Don’t You Ever Feel
  5. Strangest Thing
  6. Take Me To Town
  7. Goodnight Lil' Cowboy
  8. The Coast
  9. Shiny Apple
  10. Willow Tree
  11. Take It In

Review

Celebrating 25 years of The Waifs, their latest, Ironbark, is one of their recent best. In fact, it is very difficult to pick a favourite track on this double album.

As a consistent representative of the best of Australia’s blues/roots scene, plus a slew of Aria nominations and wins, The Waifs have come a long way from their humble beginnings and yet their sound has lost none of its characteristic humility. Recorded among the ruins of a kitchen renovation at Josh Cunningham’s house, Ironbark is a carefully produced live/acoustic compilation in two parts: disc one bearing newer works and disc two forming a kind of bonus list of hits re-recorded, updated and thoroughly improved echoing from that new granite bench.

To celebrate the release, the band put together a 25-week campaign, previewing a new track each consecutive week in the lead up to the album’s release. However, they released the tracks out of order, and it is the compilation of this work that makes it such a refreshing musical experience.

From the steady rhythms of the title track, the trio builds arcs of orchestration and harmonies, each song showcasing an instrument by marrying it to the lyrics. For me, the most invigorating pairings were the vocal harmony on ‘I Won’t Go Down’, and the stirring, waltzing percussion of ‘Grand Plans’.

‘Syria’ is a ballad of refugee tribute, running over six minutes, and its lyrical frankness and political urgency could make it the most resonant musing on the album, the enduring hit. It also binds the earthy and spiritual themes of place, displacement, home, and identity that ring true throughout. Like the best of Kasey Chambers (although you can decide on the effectiveness of this comparison) The Waif’s sound, in lieu of a bounty of cultural influences and styles, is quintessentially Australian and Ironbark, as the title suggests, is a robust monument.


Jemima Bucknell is our Online Fulfilment Manager.

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