Album of the Week: William Crighton’s Water and Dust cements him as one of Australia’s finest artists

William Crighton

There’s always something fun about artists throwing it back to a time where music was nothing more than stories, vocals, guitar and percussion. Here on his third album, Wiradjuri Country artist William Crighton is all guns blazing as he takes the listener into his mind and experiences with Water and Dust; a vast and sprawling release that is as equally pulsating and enticing as it is calmed and familiar.

After cutting his teeth on his first two albums (2018’s Empire and his 2016 self-titled), it feels like everything has come together here on Water and Dust. The titular and opening track “Water and Dust” is a more than six-minute build that commences with an earthy and charismatic pulse that grounds Crighton to the earth. The finesse of his guitar licks and the addition of the didgeridoo leads to a culminating final two minutes that kicks “Water and Dust” up a few gears and grows evermore frenetic with every beat. It’s controlled chaos and exactly how you’d want the album to kick off.

The anti-establishment “Your Country” is relentless from the opening second. A takedown of the politics (and politicians) that have led to the cultural, social and economic divide that exists in 2022 Australia, the single has the hallmarks of being an instant classic that people will look back to generations from now as a pivotal moment in music, much how Midnight Oil is referred back to now.

Given his support of Midnight Oil on their upcoming tour, there’s a definite influence from the band and other classic Australian rock bands of similar vintage here on Water and Dust; think along the lines of Hoodoo Gurus and for a more contemporary comparison, think of Dan Sultan.

“Killara” is one of Crighton’s most vivid and best opportunities to story tell on the album, with its near eight-minute run telling the story of a convict’s journey to the country, before finding connection and belonging with an Aboriginal woman. Inspired by the stories of his ancestors, there’s an unrivalled sense of self in “Killara” for Crighton.

Next up is “Keep Facing the Sunshine”, a more fun and traditional country vibe, which has Crighton singing that ‘time is no friend of mine/ time is an old friend of mine’, while “This is Magic” has a similar bounce to “Keep Facing the Sunshine”, with the closing minute probably being the most fun and harmony-filled period of the album, while also ultimately hiding some darkness in plain sight.

There are some definite parallel’s that can be drawn between Crighton and Paul Kelly, from the vivid imagery to the storytelling, lyrics and musicianship. This is most evident on the Kelly-esque “Stand”. It’s a testament to Crighton’s ability as a musician that this comparison can be drawn so easily and with complete conviction.

The album closes out with “After All (Good World)”, a take on the Henry Lawson poem, and “Lost Without You”, a track that melds together every great aspect of Water and Dust into four minutes and forty seconds of satisfying and fulfilling country rock. It’s real fun from start to finish and the perfect way to end Water and Dust.

William Crighton is an artist who feels and sounds like he is assured of his own abilities and stories. Nothing on Water and Dust feels forced. Crighton himself notes that the album was created to be both a decent and thought-provoking musical journey, as well as something you can crank at your next barbecue. I think he’s just about nailed both of those.


William Crighton’s new album Water and Dust is out Friday February 11th via ABC Music. Pre-order the album HERE.