Artist: The Waifs
Album: Beautiful You
Label: Compass Records
Release Date: 08/14/2015
The Waifs create a subtle folk blend with Beautiful You, featuring a raw intermingling of pure yet gritty vocals, soft guitar and gentle rhythms. With lead vocals shifting from track to track, the Australian singer/songwriters keep the same aesthetic, yet add interest and dimension with soft, clean harmonies.
The band consists of stronghold members Vikki Thorn, her sister Donna Simpson and Josh Cunningham, who have been releasing music since their 1996 self-titled debut. Beautiful You channels the same emotionally raw roots that were planted almost two decades ago, yet with a toned-down energy and more polished and restrained sound. There is a deeply intuitional balance that comes only from experience. With few real rock ballads on this disc like on the earlier albums, innovation arrives in simplicity. Sonically, Beautiful You arrives in the vicinity of 2011’s Temptation as an offshoot of The Waifs’ latest project.
“Dark Highway” takes a more noticeably country tone, while “6,000 Miles” has a melancholic romance ballad quality, thriving on an easy-going catchiness that appears with sweet vocal slides turned grainy wails. “Somebody’s Gonna Get Hurt” captivates with a solid beat, driving guitar, organ highlights and twangy harmonies. Then, “Come Away” begins with the same sweet, enticing tone as the Norah Jones track of a similar name, while instrumentally it offers vocal hums and a comforting rhythm section instead of piano keys. “Blindly Believing” serves as the most fast-paced, poppy piece. The hooky chorus matches effortlessly with dirtier vocals to match the story being told. “Born to Love” brings in a sensual edge, featuring harmonica and three-part harmonies. “February” ends the journey with some sass. And, like that, The Waifs are “gone, back to the salt of the earth where [they] came from.”
– Kalyn Oyer