by Paul Carruthers
Half Waif’s synth pop/chamber pop fusion album The Caretaker has some hits and some misses, but is a vulnerable and touching listen.
Nandi Rose portrays the character of a caretaker who struggles to take care of even herself. The album’s themes of isolation and meditations on the self are relevant especially to today’s listener. The entire album was written from Rose’s home, and in some tracks you can hear bugs chirping in the background or sounds of a train.
Sonically, the album consists of a limited array of sounds; most songs consist of only piano, drums, and a synthesizer. Although these sounds are well used and well performed throughout the album, the lack of variation can make the album drag on, even though it runs less than 40 minutes.
Highlights of the track list include “Siren”, which features powerful lyrics describing falling in love with someone as “taking on the burn”, taking on someones pain and bearing. The most powerful track “ordinary talk”, begins with a cry for self isolation and independence “Baby don’t worry about me/I don’t worry about you.” Backed by a relentless drum beat, Rose is confident. But half-way through, the drums cut out and we’re revealed that this strength is but a fantasy, in reality she’s crying in her coffee and sitting in the dark. As the song builds up once again, drums work back in and the vocals layer into a sonic temple which she builds to secure her solitude. This is Half Waif at her best.
Although somewhat inconsistent and limited, The Caretaker reflects strong emotions and song writing that encourage the listener to emphasize and relate. A must listen for fans of the synth pop and chamber pop genres.