“Yum Yum Pie” by Websters Wheel
It takes more than strong lyrics and a couple of catchy tunes to make a folk album extraordinary. It takes a lot of heart, plus an emotional connection that transcends mere love of the folk genre itself; in short, it takes someone like the exquisitely talented Webster’s Wheel, who pour everything in their souls into the new record Yum Yum Pie, an LP which debuted just a couple of days ago to a very warm reception from critics and audiences the same. In Yum Yum Pie’s nine songs, which include tracks like the poignant “Sparkle Eyes,” “In the Turnstile,” staggering “Can’t Be a Prophet,” “With My Hat” and the confessional “Warf Air,” singers Daniel Lee Webster and Marie Robertson don’t just make a carbon copy of some old folk yarns of yore and attach it to a volatile rhythm concept; rather than doing something silly like that, they break away from the mainstream and incorporate elements of country and folk into their storytelling. They’re an original breed of troubadour in this album, and if you’d thought you had heard the most fascinating of their discography before this moment, you would do well to strap yourself in tightly for this forthcoming thrill ride.
The string melodies in “Part and Parcel,” “With My Hat,” “Part and Parcel” and “Diamond Floor” can convey a narrative that linguistics alone never possibly could, and because of the stellar mastering of the entire tracklist from the beginning to end, we’re never robbed of any tonality in exchange for some kind of radio-ready look. Webster and Robertson tell us tales from their own heart in this LP, but they don’t limit their poetic emissions to self-aware subject matter alone.
In some ways, they’re telling us the story of folk as we move from songs like the first half’s “Yum Yum Pie” and “All This Time” into the second act’s “Warf Air,” with the strings texturizing a mood in the lyrics that lends a lot of agency to the familiar tone of the music as a complete piece. It’s complicated and yet seamless here, and those aren’t two things I can say about most of the folk albums I review.
Endearing, surreal and constantly full of surprises around every corner, Yum Yum Pie is a knockout LP not to be missed by any folk fans young and old around the country this season. In addition to being an efficient listen free of the usual fluff and nonsensical experimentalism usually counterproductive to the essence of an artist’s personal style, Yum Yum Pie just feels like a breakthrough moment in this stage of Webster’s Wheel’s career unlike any other they’re released in recent memory.
Hopefully, I’ll have the chance to see them live in the near future, but whether they get back to the studio before they hit the road or not, I think they would be smart to stay clear of making any drastic changes to their current sound. They’re struck gold in their last couple of ventures, and after this latest hit, I wouldn’t suggest that they go messing with proven success at all.
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