Wayne Halifax. Where to begin? Well, as per the style of most career retrospectives, ideally at the beginning… Simply put in a single sentence, Wayne Halifax is a man of many talents, and his talents come in many different shades. In a sense, you may already know him, as his rich vocal timbres have served to enhance a plethora of ad campaigns across Australia, and he’s also scored several roles in a catalogue of films, including Thunderstruck [Sam Worthington] directed by Darren Ashton. You see, Wayne is on an ongoing quest to invade the consciousness of Australian citizens and, it follows, the world at large. Hijacked by his own compulsions to create, to star in and, now, to sing, it turns out that Wayne Halifax just can’t contain the extroverted nature of his multi-faceted talents.
A resident of Perth, Wayne Halifax is something of a local celebrity in his native home, and it’s no surprise as to why. As judged by his vocal talents and his suave sense of charisma, Wayne could read the Fremantle telephone directory with an unrivalled sense of class and pizazz, if only accompanied by a jazz waltz tempo and a few rhythmic clicks of a finger. Accordingly, Wayne Halifax has recently branched out into the music world, offering his slick and magisterial croon to Western Australia’s finest session musicians and songwriting talent.
Wayne Halifax’s ‘My Love’ EP is a showcase of what he has to offer as a recording artist, capturing his charisma as a starlet and acting talent onto tape. Wayne brings to the mic a Chris Isaak-like sense of cool undercut with the sadness and tragedy apparent in his voice. His is a voice of experience, and it will be clear to listeners that he’s sincere about what he sings. Wayne’s simultaneously laid-back and resigned croon creates a juxtaposition of emotions, a majestic wall of sadness that’s comfortable within its inner solemnity, adding to the richness of his recordings. Wayne Halifax has all the markings of a nuanced singer.
Is there anything more staid in the music scene than ‘adult contemporary’? Whilst Wayne is indeed both a responsible ‘adult’ (he owns a driving license after all) and a ‘contemporary’, of-these-times kinda guy, these tunes artfully aim to turn the tables on the safe preconceptions that we tend to associate with the easy listening genre. Specifically, we have three Celtic-tinctured tunes, featuring the melancholy sound of the cello, along with the pastoral sounds of the mandolin, mixed with Wayne’s own pure dose of Americana. Or perhaps we should say ‘Australicana’; a genre, it appears, that Wayne Halifax currently holds all to himself with his own unique form of country and Western – Australian style.
These rootsy instrumental touches turn the previously non-threatening ‘adult contemporary’ label into a form of art music which contains a real and defined edge. On the other hand, these songs are anything but self-conscious and pretentious, and we’re left with simple raw emotions and a solid sense of songcraft. Lyrically, ‘My Love’ is a weary travelogue of the heart, documenting Wayne’s own inner journey through a gamut of worldly obstacles, including heartbreak and self-doubt. When we’re told that we’re going on an emotional ‘journey’ we may reflexively think of tacky X Factor-style sob stories, full of gauche anecdotes and trivial pitter-patter, but instead Wayne relays a completely relatable stroll through the recesses of a troubled mind, articulated with more beauty and ease than most can muster.
As listeners and fans, we should thank artists like Wayne Halifax for providing a voice to those of us who aren’t so readily able to articulate the momentous tidings of the everyday, and it’s credit to his sense of style that Wayne is able to articulate these fragile topics through his own unique voice, set to the swinging rhythms of 4/4 time. Some artists are born, others are nurtured. Wayne Halifax most certainly belongs to the former camp.