Faye Webster creates an immaculate, deeply personal album with sonic hypnotic charm.
Heartbreak is universal. The sadness and pain can be deeply felt and isolating when you are still very much in love. It is a normal reaction to question what happened and why the relationship didn’t stay together. In Faye Webster’s latest album, Atlanta Millionaires Club, she meticulously shares her feelings of a recent lost love and painful heartache for us to examine and critique. It is a valiant, bold move made by a young emerging indie artist. Atlanta Millionaires Club, will release on May 24th, via Secretly Canadian.
If you are wondering why you should listen to another heartbreak album, wonder no more. Atlanta Millionaires Club is immaculate and pure of sound and Webster has formed an undefinable genre. It gently sways from tinges of alt-country, rap, R&B and even pop, to the breezy island vibes of Hawaii. The songs are a soothing sonic exploration while each track is intimately personal, as Faye Webster softly walks us through her anguish. Despite the prevalence of heartbreak songs, Webster’s songwriting is uniquely vulnerable. She whispers self deprecating, witty melancholy, surrounded by a singing wail of steel pedal guitar. These thoughtful combinations produce a profoundly honest, hypnotic charm.
The album dives deep into breakup and heartache as it opens painfully with the lyrics, “Looks like I’ve been crying again over the same thing, I wondered if anyone has ever cried for me”, from the first track, “Room Temperature.” Oddly, the music has the charm of a Hawaiian luau with a splash of a country two step. This contrast is engaging and all at once the album takes hold. The dreamy upbeat track, “Right Side Of My Neck,” gives a hint of where this wild infatuation/love story began. She recalls moments of intimacy with carefully chosen lyrics. Prominent is an electric keyboard giving it a 70’s vibe. Although, the pedal steel continues to enhance every line. “Hurts Me Too,” jumps back into the reflective gloom explaining her need to speak honestly and write songs that are true to how she feels, not just happier songs to please others. With the line, “that day that I said I loved you, you didn’t say it in return, it was the day I realized that silence is actually heard,” you can’t help but feel her pain, like a punch to the gut.
Webster’s songwriting began when she was only fourteen years old, and later in high school, she was part of a creative rap group where she could expand her style outside of her own personal songwriting. The collaboration proved formative and it led her to Awful Records and working with an Atlanta rap collective. While recording with them, she discovered her signature vocal style. It developed from quietly singing under her covers at night so she wouldn’t wake her parents and as a result the album is brimming with examples of her engaging whisper-like sultry vocals.
The heart wrencher “Jonny” pleads for answers to her never ending questions. A keyboard and bass lead the song into Webster’s singing sorrow as she asks “did you ever love me?…help me figure it out…do you see what you’re doing?” She stands outside of the shadowy isolated life she depicts when she boldly says his name. The song begins with a simple tapping beat and keyboard and as she questions Jonny in confusion, bright horns, a sax, and lustrous strings are the slow building surround sound. It is a gorgeous tune that continues the theme but stands out in its flourishing musical arrangement and hip nightclub sound. In a diversion from the hopelessness, the woozy track, “Kingston” is a light hearted, gentle love song with a delicate sublime arrangement of pedal steel, keyboard, guitar and horns. Within the song, Webster seems to lose herself completely to love or the idea of its possibility. Changing tempos, “What Used To Be” is a full on country song. The song looks back at her loss and everything she misses with sentimentality and longing. Rolling drum beats set the tone as the pedal steel whines and sighs. Perhaps this melancholy country ballad gives a nod to her Atlanta southern roots.
The outlier of the album is the track, “Flowers.” It speaks to Webster’s history with Awful Records by featuring rapper and best friend, Father. Her signature vocals are mixed with his rowdy, classic rap style. He provides the inevitable guy’s point of view with, “I don’t like to get caught up in commitments, Let’s just stop asking these hoes for forgiveness, She thinkin’ some unfinished business.” The track provides an odd, unexpected rap presence which may surprise most listeners. I sense it contributes to an emotional shift in the album. Webster becomes stronger and more focused, realizing the relationship is truly over. You can pick up on her inner self developing. Sure enough, she ends the album with the proverbial kiss-off. At this point, she begins to recognize the sadness just isn’t sustainable and finds her power, with the track, “Jonny (Reprise).” It is a spoken song and a candid letter of goodbye.
Coldplay sings a famous line, “stuck in reverse,” a state where you selectively remember only the moments which bring joy and you question every moment which led to a relationship’s demise. For the majority of the album, Webster seems to be placed firmly in her own reverse. As a listener, I fell behind her willingly, reminded of moments in my life where I felt the rejection of the slow painful process of ending love. Her songs offered few metaphors or innuendo. Webster conveyed each track with angelic clarity, making keen relatable observations among lush arrangements. By doing so, she blurred the lines between musical genres to create a sense of timelessness. While listening, I became Webster’s confidant and friend, rooting for her disappointment and pain to ease. Even as Coldplay sings “I will try to fix you,” we all know that is impossible. Maybe for Webster and those listening, it is reflection and soul searching that makes all the difference. Faye Webster is an artist who transforms her imperfections and rejection into her creatively expressed truths, an excellent place to begin.
Faye Webster-Room Temperature