Against a backdrop of gilded string play, the likes of which has been mostly absent from airwaves in 2020, Webster’s Wheel proceeds to unveil some of the smartest and most enigmatic verses you’ll hear on a folk record this spring in the song “Static Bloom.” Cutting in tone and yet humble in style, the words that the singers breathe life into are nothing short of spellbinding from the start, but they’re definitely not the lone reason to check out this track (and, for that matter, its parent album). In Rest My Weary I’s, Webster’s Wheel compile a collection of songs just like this one that you should be listening to right now.
There’s a tremendous amount of catharsis to be found throughout Rest My Weary I’s, but in the aforementioned “Static Bloom” and its tracklist neighbors “Weary I’s,” “Courting of More” and “Whispers,” tension is never a component in the music. This has been one of the stranger years in recent memory for most of us, but Webster’s Wheel aren’t focusing on any of that here. Instead of exploiting a theme that would inarguably suit the insular poetic style they employ on their rookie LP, this duo tries something a little more experimental (and a lot more exciting).
The expressiveness in songs like “Hike Up the Valley,” “Shepard Boy,” “Glad I Prayed” and “Take a Stroll” isn’t limited to singing and strumming a guitar exclusively. In fact, I think there’s a case to be made that Webster’s Wheel utilize the textures in their music as liberally as their contemporaries would a synthetic harmony. They’re going all organic in the construction of every composition here and, in doing so, afford us a raw, far more unfiltered take on folk music than you’re going to get from a major label source this month.
I don’t say this about many bands I review, but I definitely think Webster’s Wheel could pull off a cover album without losing any of their artistic credibility (I actually think it could spike their respect level in the industry). Their homespun melodies are familiar and undisputedly related to classic roots music, and if given the right set of tools, I don’t see any reason why they couldn’t toy with a few standards and develop something as captivating as Dracula’s Dorys & Eli. That record was a surprise smash in 2019, and in my view, Rest My Weary I’s shares many of its sublimely engaging facets.
While I hadn’t heard of Webster’s Wheel before I was recently referred to them by a colleague who follows singer/songwriters, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a confirmed fan of their sound after listening to the incredible Rest My Weary I’s. Unlike a lot of the indie material I’ve been spinning in 2020, this is an album that doesn’t feel like it’s trying to be something other than what it unquestionably is. Fans of meat and potatoes folk music don’t have to wonder if this record is worth checking out – for my money, it’s a slam dunk.
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