Sun Dirt Water is an album born of time and distance. The geographic space between singer-songwriters Donna Simpson, Vikki Thorn and Josh Cunningham, and the long hiatus since their last studio triumph, Up All Night, created a kind of vacuum that these new songs could hardly wait to fill.
We had more songs to choose from than we ve ever had, says Josh. We ended up recording 21 or 22, so the hardest part by far was working out what to leave out and what fit together, to give the fans something that has some unity and variety and still represents where we ve come to.
Vikki agrees. "This was by far the most difficult Waifs album, in terms of finding cohesion with our different songwriting styles. But for that reason I feel it's our most interesting and risky album to date."
It's Vikki who sets the bar with the title track. "Sun Dirt Water" is a worldly, seductive groove that meanders between styles with insouciant authority slinky jazz, elegant country, smoky blues and effortlessly nails what Josh calls "our finest recorded moment to date."
"I think the recording has a really great energy to it and the vocal is the best vocal on any Waifs record. It really sets the tone for the album for me cause it has that great, liberated energy and expression in it."
From the darkly evocative storytelling of Donna's "Vermillion" and "Sad Sailor Song" to Josh's upbeat country spiritual Eternity, this sense of liberation runs an exquisitely loose thread through the Waifs' fifth album.
The eerie introspection of "Love Let Me Down," the gleeful, organ-fuelled pop of Stay, the electric riff rock of "No Such Thing As Goodbye" and the old-time ukulele thrum of Sentimental are worlds apart stylistically, but they spring from the same well of timeless roots influences and an instinct for collaborative expression that only comes with years traveling the same road.