Atlanta Millionaires Club
If you ever wondered how Burt Bacharach might write and arrange for the “Netflix and chill” gen then you’d get a few clues straight away when lining up Faye Webster’s third album. The American singer does a fine line in post-break loser love songs; there’s just enough optimism (most of which is conveyed through her honeyed voice) but there’s also claustrophobia (“I should get out more” is the repeated refrain of opener, Room Temperature) and bedsit torch balladry abounds (Hurts Me Too might take you back to Birds-era Bic Runga or a less-happy Natalie Prass).
Weepy pedal steel lines, slick licks from the horns, a bit of Donny Hathaway-inspired late-night R’n’B electric piano (Jonny) and the millennial approximation of Motown (Come to Atlanta) all combine to make an album that’s both background-cruisy and foreground-needy; Webster’s voice might be the thing that ties it all together, that keeps the interest level high. The songs are fine, often great, the playing is exquisite – it’s very much immaculately put together – but it’s that voice that puts you (and the songs) in the right place.
Little hints of hip-hop seem dotted around the edges of these songs, in the liquid basslines, the repeated lyrical refrains, the joy and simplicity, but then she could be a country torch singer (What Used To Be Mine). Just when you think you have Webster pegged as some next version in the Norah Jones/Jenny Lewis line of smart country-pop chanteuse types she invites rapper Father in for the penultimate track, Flowers. He plays the role of the part-time lover or the booty-caller that might have planned to leave his sweatshirt behind a few times. Webster’s already told us she can still smell his scent (Right Side Of My Neck) – the character a presence through the album because of his absence in her life. Now we meet him. We hear from him. She’s never really judged him, just missed him – and told us many times, in many mundane and exquisite ways about the heartbreak and hopelessness of this situation – the needing if not neediness.
There’s something super clever about ‘meeting’ the other character so late in a brief, masterful, deceptive album.
Webster is all class here. There’s something profound happening in and around the breathing spaces in these songs.
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