Continuing to provide a sense of drama, Australian folk trio the Waifs have seen one of their members admitted to rehab for alcohol addiction and another discover Christianity in the subsequent four years since their last album, Sundirtwater. Unsurprisingly, these off-the-field activities have played a major part in the shaping of their sixth studio effort, the appropriately titled Temptation, which in keeping with their low-key stripped-back charms, was recorded in a Minneapolis basement over just ten days. Indeed, there are several times you feel like you've rudely wandered in on a particularly grueling therapy session, such is its soul-baring nature, like on the plaintive ballad "Just Like Me," which sees one of the group's two sisters, Donna Simpson, struggle to contain her emotion while she recalls her battles with the drink; the cathartic melancholy of "Somedays," which expresses the urge for inner freedom against a backdrop of gently strummed acoustics; and the slow-chugging blues of barroom confessional "I Learn the Hard Way." But they are positively cheerful compared to the two numbers penned by born-again Christian Josh Cunningham, whose gruff delivery is the perfect foil for the preacher-like sermons of the apocalyptic "Moses and the Lamb" and the seven-minute gospel-tinged title track. It's not all doom and gloom, though. "Beautiful Night" is a vintage slice of '50s-styled Americana based on the theme of domestic bliss, "Day Dreamer" is the kind of lilting sea shanty you'd expect to find on the beaches of Honolulu, and "Falling" is a steel guitar-laden radio-friendly love song reminiscent of the Dixie Chicks' poppier material. Temptation isn't always a easy listen, but while their personal trials and tribulations could have overshadowed many a lesser band's output, the folk-pop veterans have wisely used them to their advantage, creating a record that is achingly honest but utterly melodic at the same time.
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AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien