LABEL : SECRETLY CANADIAN
ALBUM IN A SENTENCE : GENTLE INDIE COUNTRY WITH SURPRISINGLY DEEP HOOKS.
Released back in June, I thought I had enough confidence in my mental filing system to have I Know I’m Funny Haha by Faye Webster figured out. I thought “Good, really good, but something to celebrate on a playlist rather than a full post.” So on a playlist it went, and I moved on to the next album that seemed more urgent. That playlist imagined 24 hours at a fantasy festival. To my mind, Faye Webster was unlucky this year to not have her music heard in something like its natural habitat; as the tender Sunday afternoon wakeup call/hangover cure for thousands of sweat-soaked, sun-smoked strangers in a party field.
Months later, the album came back to me on something like a half-life. I was listening to another band all together on my morning runs, preparing to write about them. And they are good, really good, and I’ve put them on a playlist, but… every time I would listen to them I would be reminded of the hook from the title track ‘I Know I’m Funny haha’, and I couldn’t help singing that instead. There’s no plagiarism involved, it was just my body’s way of telling me that compared to the album I thought I ought to be writing about, Faye Webster’s was superior.
With reflection, what separates Faye Webster from a crowded field of solo artists with indie and country/folk influences is the depth of her hooks. Webster has a true pop sensibility. Her earworms have paid their union dues and are driving mechanical diggers. I love the way that she pronounces ‘haha’ so it sounds like it’s in italics matched against a steel guitar, or the coda of ‘Kind Of’ that compels you to whisper along. Added to this is Webster’s way with a confessional, first person, stinging one liner lyric. ‘Both All The Time’ stands out with lines like ‘So I keep rereading the same book / Cuz I know how it ends’, caught in the tension between knowing you need to move on and the threat of loneliness.
Musically, I Know I’m Funny haha is both gentle and classic. It is an album that carries something of the same spirit as Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour and the lushness of Lambchop. It is an album that never really feels the need to rise above mid-pace, but lets you know at every turn that Webster and her band have the chops and heart to produce a slice of Motown magic should they ever want.
Faye Webster is an artist who it is possible to miss or underestimate in 2021, particularly as much of the live infrastructure that would support artists like her has struggled. It is hard to make any breakthrough elbow room with so many massively talented solo artists making solid indie records. Webster still shines through for this simple reason, she has staying power. Listen to her songs and you too may well find yourself accidentally singing them back months down the line.