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Michael Waugh : What We Might Be

★★★★

Country music singer, songwriter and guitarist Michael Waugh is a dairy farmer’s son from Gippsland, Victoria. On What Might We Be, Waugh dispenses with many of the lyrical concerns that are often trundled out by practitioners of the country music regardless of their actual country of origin. Rather than singing reverently about a mythical America, Waugh conjures images and experiences that are refreshingly and distinctly Australian, and does so with an honesty and depth of insight that ensures this debut album is an engrossing listening experience.
 
Waugh’s love and respect for his family shines through in Brother, which manages to tug at the heartstrings whilst remaining both playful and down-to-earth. Waugh avoids mawkishness and instead captures the complex nature of the familial bond: “I don’t often tell you – except for when we’re drunk / Just how much it means that you’ve been there when things were tough / I disagree with everything you say / But you’re my brother and I love you anyway.” Waugh’s capacity for incisive social commentary comes to the fore on the moving Terrorists and Planes, which inspires the listener to soberly reflect on a society in which the spectre of violence haunts even the most seemingly innocuous pursuits such as childish “games”.
 
If you love music that will get your toes tapping while engaging your brain cells, What We Might Be will prove to be indispensable listening.
 
BY GRAHAM BLACKLEY