Creating and solidifying an identity as a songwriter doesn’t usually happen early on in a career, but instead over a more studious period. James Robert Webb is a rare exception to this rule, as the first set of songs he released seven years ago painted a strong picture of who he is as an artist, and, as I see it from a critical standpoint, his latest studio work “Gentlemen Start Your Weekends” only provides us with more aesthetical consistency on his part. With a well-chosen band backing him up, Webb delivers a juggernaut country-rock performance in “Gentlemen Start Your Weekends” worthy of the hype it’s receiving this summer season and then some, primarily because of its crossover appeal for both rock and country fans alike.
The melodies that comprise the heart of this single are strong enough to break through the overdrive of the guitars, but I like that Webb isn’t exaggerating the distortion here just the same. There’s nothing worse than having a great country foundation and ruining it with a lot of bloated rock tones that would best be minimized when incorporating them into a track, and I get the feeling that Webb was thinking as much when he arranged this piece. Together, these components are bringing out the best in one another whilst also steering away from the pitfalls that come with having a slightly indulgent artistic profile. This is a balanced performance, and it comes across that way directly because of the leading man himself.
There’s no doubt in my mind that the melodic qualities of this track are far more important to the musicians than any element of virtuosity is, and had this not been the case, the vocal harmonies that carry forth the best lines in the song would have been smothered out by an extended guitar solo. I don’t think there’s much of a place for showboating in the modern country music genre, and there’s nothing here to indicate that James Robert Webb wouldn’t agree. He’s leaving the fanciful synthetics and chest-beating intensity of traditional hard rock off the table entirely, instead replacing it with brawny, outlaw-style musicianship that sticks to traditions as we’ve always been able to appreciate them.
James Robert Webb presents us with the perfect combination of country and rock n’ roll in the new single “Gentlemen Start Your Weekends,” and I hope I have the opportunity to see what he can do with this material live on stage at some point soon. There’s no stopping the momentum he has behind the beat once he gets rolling in this track, and if this is representative of what he can do at the onset of this new chapter in his career I think what he’s going to produce as he gets bigger on the mainstream level is going to be more than noteworthy to the country-rock faithful. “Gentlemen Start Your Weekends” sets a high standard for sure, and I have a feeling he is going to pass it yet again shortly.
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