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YABU BAND A Cry in the Wind gets 9/10

Yabu Band

A Cry in the Wind


Composed of Goldfields-born brothers Delson and Boyd Stokes, Yabu Band first emerged on Australia’s music scene in the mid-90s. The Indigenous Australian rock roots outfit were then bestowed with numerous awards, particularly in 2009 when they scored WA Indigenous Act of the Year, WA Indigenous Contemporary Album of the Year, and WA Guitarist of the Year for Boyd Stokes. Now they have returned after a long absence with new single A Cry in the Wind, and it’s as if they’ve never been away. 

Yabu Band’s absence from the studio and the stage over the past decade has been meaningful and very much in line with the messages within their music. The brothers have spent the years since 2012 working with remote Indigenous Australian communities and helping disadvantaged youth to reprise their role in upholding long-standing Indigenous culture in the modern day. Fittingly, their first single in over eight years was released to coincide with NAIDOC Week this year.  

Yabu Band have described their return to music this year as assuming the role of “Songmen” in their culture. “The job of a Songman is to make sense of everyday struggles and relate them to the Thoorgoorba – the law of country and mind, or law of nature and what makes us human,” lead vocalist Delson said. “We are creating a path where we all walk side-by-side. At this moment, Australia is picking up the threads of our joint histories and beginning to stitch a healing blanket for us all. Our songs, Yabu Band songs, are the songs to be sung while we make that blanket.”

Such yearning for understanding and peace is commendable; more vociferous rebuttal would not be out of the question after such division and mistreatment of their people. But Yabu Band care about reconciliation, and they weave their own calming thread here into a blanket of healing. “I don’t wanna walk behind you/ Just wanna stand beside you,” is Delson’s plea in the song, and it’s really not that much he’s asking for.

A Cry in the Wind is a vital song with a message of importance, but what’s also immediately noticeable is how incredibly radio-friendly it is. It’s lovely and lilting, possessed of a spellbinding melody. The track’s tenderness is particularly elevated through Delson’s truly soulful delivery. His singing is impassioned and momentous, resolute and full of conviction, and perhaps as close to pop as the duo are ever likely to go. Boyd’s excellent guitar controls the journey of the track, with his playing unleashed for a twinkling solo near its climax. 

The inspiration for the song goes deep into the brothers’ lineage, coming from one family photo in particular. “Our family has an old photo of our great, great grandfather – a strong, proud man with mud locks and many tribal marks. The child his wife carries on her hip is our dad’s dad. The call of that old man, the cry of that child, the whisper in the trees – that’s our music. That’s a cry in the wind,” Delson said.

The song is the first release from Yabu Band’s upcoming EP, also going by the title A Cry in the Wind, scheduled for release in early 2021. With their unique craft of singing music in both English and their own Wongutha language, Yabu Band’s new release will also draw attention to the musical quality of Aboriginal languages, as they aim to strengthen culture and convey a message of unity that is clearly important to them.

“Let our voices be heard,” Delson cries towards the end of this song, and one thinks that these now elder statesmen might just inspire the next generation to do just that. Australia is lucky to have Yabu Band back in the musical landscape. Now entering their fourth decade in music, their remarkable longevity is a testament to their proud role as voices for their community. Timeless music like this also acts a reminder of Indigenous Australians’ central role as storytellers and custodians of the land that sustains us, and that it “always was, always will be.” 


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