Published May 21, 2019On Atlanta Millionaires Club, the new LP from singer/songwriter Faye Webster, nothing is as it seems. Look no further than the cover art, greeting us with a clutched fist, full of what appear to be gold coins. Then, Webster's half-open mouth, spewing torn foil and melting chocolate, beneath. Her eyes drift past us into the distance, unfazed.
A songwriter since age 14, Webster came of age in a suburb of the same city that now gives name to her record. Atlanta's music scene left an indelible mark on Webster. It was the rap collective Awful Records that released the artist's debut album in 2017, despite her stylings — a deadpan approximation of Americana — being a distinct anomaly on the label.
Atlanta Millionaires Club refers, in part, to the influence that the city has had on her work. Most centrally, though, it is drawn from the name that her father once used to refer to his group of grad school friends, as they imagined a future of wealth and excess — one that never came to be.
This tension, between the expected and the actual, tethers together much of the LP. As Atlanta Millionaires Club begins, our first impression is of the sonic expanse of 1970's southern R&B. Album opener "Room Temperature," with its bending reeds of pedal steel guitar and waxy vocals, is classic stuff of the genre — folding out a quiet eternity of flaxen plains.
Listen closer, though, and things start to close in. Webster is crying, again, "over the same thing." She repeats a mantra ("I should get out more") until it begins to lose meaning, eroding into an assembly of sounds, a helpless cry for help. "Nothing means anything," Webster laments, her syllables buoyed along by the deceptively placid breeze of guitar.
Contradictions and duplicities abound. But Webster is not putting us on. For all of its facades, Atlanta Millionaires Club is a work of arresting candour. "On my last record I was afraid to say some things," Webster has said. No longer. Album highlight "Jonny" calls an ex-partner by name, and on "What Used to Be Mine," Webster confesses: "I miss your voice. You're the only one with it."
Her voice fades. The pedal steel keens above, steady as ever. (Secretly Canadian)