Faye Webster: Underdressed at the Symphony (Secretly Canadian) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Faye Webster

Underdressed at the Symphony

Secretly Canadian

Mar 05, 2024 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

It’s been three years since singer/songwriter Faye Webster released her last album, 2021’s critically acclaimed I Know I’m Funny haha, but in that time, the Atlanta native has kept busy. Though her characteristic blend of twangy indie rock and countrified R&B has kept her on the indie radar for years, it was during and after the pandemic that Webster and her music experienced an astonishing ascent into mainstream popularity thanks to the viral power of TikTok. On her latest album, Undressed at the Symphony, Webster broadens her sonic palate while preserving the same elements that captivated her current internet following.

Existing fans will be happy to hear the same shimmering pedal-steel and alt-country instrumentation that have come to define the 26-year-old’s catalog, but the album paints a clear picture of Webster’s growth as an artist.

She plays with arrangements, seamlessly weaving jazz guitars around glockenspiels and vocoders in tracks like “Thinking About You” and “He Loves Me Yeah!” or introducing stabs of weightier orchestral sounds in “But Not Kiss” and “Underdressed at the Symphony.” She experiments with pacing and space, indulging in expansive, repetitive motifs that become backdrops for subtle improvisation on “Lifetime” and introducing melting tempo switches on the unpredictable “Lego Ring” (featuring Lil Yachty, a longtime friend of Webster).

This skillful balancing act between the familiar and the novel extends from the album’s sonic elements to its thematic ones. As a songwriter, Webster has made a name for herself with her ability to juggle wry self-awareness and irony with moments of gentle yearning and heartache, each coexisting naturally in the emotive space of her songs. We hear the same juxtaposition on this record, but Webster’s self-awareness here is stronger than ever before, offering a sense of self-acceptance that is both breezy and revelatory. It’s apparent not just in certain lyrical moments (“I wanna quit all the time…I think I’ll figure it out”), but also in the progression of the album itself: it starts with the song “Thinking About You,” with Webster singing, “I’m asleep in the moment you’re holding my head” and ends on the track “Tttttime,” opening with, “I woke up naturally…I’m alone but what’s new.”

Ultimately, Underdressed at the Symphony’s greatest achievement is the balance it strikes between opposing elements: the familiar and the novel, humor and heartache, dreams and reality. While Webster maintains her stylistic singularity, she doesn’t sit in it; instead, she expands beyond it, keeping it in tow as she explores different sounds and sentiments. (www.fayewebster.com)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 6/10


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