Armed with an acoustic guitar, vocals and late-night candle-lit eiderdown reverb, Jonathan David Shaw (JDS) delivers what could be his most accessible album since 2005’s conceptual Boo.
What delineates this from JDS’s other works is a certainty that steers the album confidently through 13 lush tracks. The welcome mat track, 'Overture', is an appropriately sized and framed instrumental blueprint through which the album unveils.
JDS’s vocals, while not hardening in the sense of cement, are certainly more defined, stronger and more purposeful than in the past. In Waa, the way his vocals shape his lyrics is almost akin to a melodic actor, allowing the dense and earthy imagery of his words to form. Tracks like ‘Bird on a Branch’, ‘Run Like You're Never Still’ and ‘Bird Knows Where You Are’ are the best reflections of this, where along with his vocals and accents, JDS peppers his delivery with poignant and purposeful pauses.
Another aspect that gives Waa wings lies in the guitar work. While always working as the foundation upon which JDS and Marlene Samson sing, JDS's fingerpicking style adds a nuance and flair that elevates these songs. A special note to the engineer, who allows the album to develop a sonic signature within the tasteful reverb that the songs soak in.
A return to form for the Melbourne balladeer; we hope he finds time in his busy schedule to tour it.
– C.J. Lahey