By Chris Familton.
MICHAEL WAUGH – THE WEIR (Compass Bros Records)
Michael Waugh’s last album The Asphalt & The Oval found him refining his blend of vivid Australian storytelling with impressive results. Now, just a year later, he’s picked up exactly where he left off, with another thirteen songs that use nostalgia in a rich and poetic way yet his unvarnished approach to memories of the past and contemporary society is definitely not viewed through rose-tinted spectacles.
The count is sky-high when it comes to pop-culture, political and geographical references that pepper these songs. In some cases they play a central narrative role. ‘Big Things’ name-checks oversized landmarks such as a big koala, pineapple, banana and guitar, spotted from the back seat of the car on a rare family holiday, while the single ‘This Song Reminds Me’ reels off a who’s who of 70s-90s Australian rock ’n’ roll as Waugh reflects on the musical power of the ‘soundtrack to your life’ through one’s formative years.
Waugh worked with producer Shane Nicholson once again for this album and the pair clearly have a shared musical vision for the songs, framing them in skeletal folk framework on ’50 Words’ and ‘Down In The Valley’, or fleshing them out with lush and warm alt-country textures. The finest moments come when the music takes a twilight detour down a country road into moodier territory.
‘Search Party’ details the frantic hunt for a missing family member with an undercurrent of gentle menace and bad vibes built on wonderful lyrics and a chorus melody that fits like a glove. Waugh leaves us with ‘Last Drinks’, a song that recalls the warm country soul of Lambchop yet, as he does so rewardingly right across The Weir, Waugh shapes and colours his songs with the kind of unique Australian qualities associated with Tim Winton, Perry Keyes and Paul Kelly.
MICHAEL WAUGH – UPCOMING SHOW DATES:
Saturday 7th Sept – MELBOURNE LAUNCH SHOW – The Spotted Mallard – Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 8th September – Maffra Memorial Hall – Gippsland, VIC
Saturday 14th September – The Palais (w/ Shane Nicholson) – Hepburn Springs, VIC
Saturday 21st September – Sandy Point Music Club (with Gretta Ziller) – Sandy Point, VIC
Friday 4th October – Oodies Café (w/ Scott Cook) – Bundaberg, QLD
Saturday 12th – Saturday 19th October – Cruisin Country 2019
Friday 1st – Sunday 3rd November – Maldon Folk Festival – Maldon, VIC
Saturday 16th November – Humph Hall (w/ Gretta Ziller) – Allambie Heights, NSW
Sunday 17th November – Illawarra Folk Club show (w/Gretta Ziller) – Kiama, NSW
Saturday 23rd November – Burke and Wills Winery – Heathcote, VIC
Saturday 30th November – By the Banks Festival – Albury, VIC
Wednesday 11th December – The Lomond Hotel – East Brunswick, VIC