The Waifs Temptation as reviewed in The Phantom TollboothA gem on the most pressing topic of all time.

The Waifs
Compass Records

Now here is an album that is greater than the sum of its parts. The title of this disc is fitting, with songs that delve into the struggles of being human, parenting, love, addiction, marriage, and Psalmlike prayers for God's help. Style? Americana, power pop, classic rock, gospel, 50' abundance of influences weave their way into The Waifs' music, without relying on any one of them too heavily.

"Drifting Dreaming" and "Day Dreamer" are two tracks in one, seamlessly proceeding from one to the next, searching yet hopeful: "Where do we take it from here?" "I Learnt the Hard Way" meshes Americana with blues (think Sheryl Crow meets Susan Tedeschi). "Beautiful Night" invokes the beach, and has the same relaxed feel as the classic song "Under the Boardwalk".

"Moses and the Lamb" sounds like a lost "O Brother Where Art Thou?" outtake. The vocals mix the best of The Duhks with 80's new wavers Timbuk 3, and the piece is timeless in that it could have been recorded in the 1930's or any decade since. "Somedays" jumps forward forty years, with a Lynryd Skynyrd guitar riff thrown in at the bridge, and "Falling" has vocals that resemble a female version of Crowded House or Squeeze.

"Temptation" should be covered by Sara Watkins on her next album. Plaintive, nervously depicting a battle between Jesus and Satan (or a believer and Satan?), singer Vikki Thorn may be describing her recent conversion to Christianity.

This album is a gem. It is rare that a group that has been together almost twenty years continues to get better, but this album shows that The Waifs are aging quite well, thanks.