Faye Webster – I Know I’m Funny haha (2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 40:43 minutes | 842 MB | Genre: Indie Rock, Female Vocal
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Secretly Canadian
I Know I’m Funny haha is Webster’s most realized manifestation yet of this emotional and musical alchemy. Continuing to bloom from her 2019 breakthrough and Secretly Canadian debut Atlanta Millionaires Club, Webster’s sound draws as much from the lap-steel singer-songwriter pop of the 1970s and teardrop country tunes as it does from the audacious personalities of her city’s rap and R&B community.
The album began for Webster with the stirring ballad “In a Good Way,” as in “You make me want to cry in a good way”—an instant-classic Faye Webster one-liner. It’s beguilingly simple, the kind of melody and arrangement that seem to have existed forever. A sense of relief charges the neo-psychedelic pop of “Cheers,” where Webster experiments with an overdriven guitar tone. She also collaborated, on “Overslept,” with the Japanese artist Mei Ehara, who she calls the biggest influence on her new music.
Webster’s music is full of personality. Many of her songs contain bits of girl-group-esque talk-singing, which color her atypical story-songs.
Webster says she’s in a growth mindset, pushing herself to learn more, to be more vulnerable. “Growth is really important to me,” she says. “I hope people will relate to my songs, and not just be like ‘this is a good record’ but ‘this makes me feel something. This is making me think differently, this is making me question things.’ I told myself a few years ago that I was going to be more honest in my songwriting, that honesty is the best route to take with music. If I have a voice and people are listening to me, I’m not going to waste it.”
Faye Webster’s songs are like the musical equivalent of a drizzly morning when you know the sun is on its way—beautiful, sleepy in an appealingly decadent way, and full of promise. “Better Distractions,” the gently percolating opening track from the singer-songwriter’s fourth album, is a little jazzy, a little country, a little folky, flirting with the melody of “Something Stupid” while Webster comes on like a melting-butter version of Rickie Lee Jones. No wonder Barack Obama chose it as one of his favorite songs of 2020. “Sometimes” washes over you like a warm bath, while “A Stranger” employs sweeping romantic strings borrowed from an old movie—then adds deep pauses between drum beats to both heighten the drama and force the listener into a state of relaxation. The slip-sliding guitar of “Kind Of” has a similar magic effect, but the slightly off-kilter drum beat keeps you engaged and on your feet. “It feels kind of tucked away,” Webster sings again and again, which is a pretty apt description of the song itself. Weirdly, “Kind Of” also suggests Webster could write a killer ballad for Gwen Stefani, as does “In a Good Way,” its flamenco-flirting guitar smartly bouncing off her vocal melody. “Both All the Time”—”There’s a difference between lonely and lonesome/ but I’m both all the time”—uses a plodding bass to underscore a sense of delicious wallowing, then adds triangle to interrupt her dark reverie, like the return of a typewriter putting a definitive punctuation on a thought. (It also lives up to the album title.) With its lazy sax, “A Dream with a Baseball Player” is a light and sexy take on girl-group shoop-shoop. “Overslept” finds Webster matched for low-key loveliness by Japanese singer-songwriter mei ehara. And “Cheers” is positively strident for the extremely low-key (if sometimes anxious-sounding) Webster, its slinky guitar bobbing atop a caffeinated rhythm, like a Courtney Barnett outtake. Good stuff. – Shelly Ridenour
1. Better Distractions (04:09)
2. Sometimes (04:33)
3. I Know I’m Funny haha (02:43)
4. In a Good Way (03:43)
5. Kind Of (05:25)
6. Cheers (03:15)
7. Both All the Time (03:12)
8. A Stranger (02:59)
9. A Dream With a Baseball Player (03:41)
10. Overslept (feat. mei ehara) (03:29)
11. Half of Me (03:33)