Since releasing their debut, self-titled album in 1996 The Waifs have established a strong and loyal fan-base worldwide, built on the relentless touring they did in Australia in those formative years, playing in any town that would have them, honing their stagecraft and their song writing skills along the way. Ironbark, the group’s eighth studio album, is a thank you to those thousands of fans who have stuck with them at home and overseas, and a fitting one given the quality of the material.
“We thought about this album from their perspective,” says Thorn. “How do we give back? It made so much sense just to sit around in a room and play our guitars together.”
In a catalogue of many great songs, from early favourites such as London Still and Lighthouse to Black Dirt Track and Dark Highway from their most recent album, Beautiful You (2015), Ironbark is an embarrassment of riches.
Aside from the title song, which opens the album, Cunningham’s contribution includes a couple of gems that are immersed in the land and sea around his home. The Shack, for example, a gentle spoken-word stroll, takes him back to his youth, to the tiny house where he grew up, next door to where he lives now. Then there are the exquisite sibling harmonies on I Won’t Go Down, a pulsing acoustic tale of resolve that came to Cunningham during a thunderstorm while he was camping on the beach.