QUICKSPINS: Faye Webster—Underdressed at the Symphony

Album cover of “Underdressed at the Symphony” by Faye Webster. Courtesy of Apple Music.

The American singer-songwriter put out her fifth album with waves of love from listeners since its release on March 1st.

The month of March started on a more-than-pleasant note after the Atlanta-born singer, songwriter, and musician Faye Webster dropped her fifth studio record Underdressed at the Symphony. Composed of 10 tracks with a runtime of about 37 minutes, Webster continues the sonic sound she has built and refined over the years. 

If you are not already familiar with her work, you might have heard a snippet of one of her most famous songs “Kingston” being used a lot as a TikTok audio; or you may have caught videos online of the artist performing covers of the soundtrack of the popular video game Animal Crossing at past concerts. Her witty but refined alternative sound is sustained with this new record and old and new fans can equally experience what Faye Webster is all about without any filter.    

As stated in a biography section under her label’s Secretly Canadian website, “The title of Faye Webster’s new album is inspired by her occasional compulsion to lose herself amongst concertgoers at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.” Indeed, the singer would find herself spontaneously going to symphonies to escape and find herself in an environment where she didn’t necessarily feel like she belonged. 

Right at the beginning of the album, we are in the midst of a dreamy ‘70s pop and mellow country sound with R&B ties. The bass, guitar and drums slowly come in to create this canvas for Faye Webster to remind us how lovely her vocal range is. The opening track “Thinking About You” is sweet and straightforward, in which Webster thinks aimlessly about a certain someone.  The seamless mix of genres at the very start perfectly introduces the consistent sound that will follow. It is also essentially coming from her roots back in Atlanta and the influence of its city’s music scene. 

One of my favourite moments in the album is in the next track titled “But Not Kiss.” Webster softly starts singing “I want to sleep in your arms,…” with a delicate guitar playing in the background, right before a playful and powerful piano and drums abruptly come in while she adds “but not kiss” to the line. The contrast in both the lyrics is brilliantly transferred musically and takes the listener by surprise more than once throughout the song. 

Another special moment is the fourth track “Lego Ring” which features multi-hyphenate artist Lil Yachty as the only guest on the album. The two were actually close friends in middle school as Atlanta teenagers, as Webster shared in a 2017 W profile. I especially love the rough but calculated guitar that starts the song off along with Webster’s higher-pitched vocals that contrast with Lil Yachty’s autotuned lower tone.  

One of the finest songs of the entire album for me is definitely “Feeling Good Today.” The catchy melody Wesbter sustains over its lyrics tells of a mundane-sounding day. All the lines in the song are so simple yet so telling as if coming straight out of her personal day. However, what makes it extra special is the line that sets the scenery of the song when she sings “I’m feeling good today, I ate before noon, I think that’s pretty good for me.” That really struck a chord in me and made me realize that sometimes the most basic-sounding phrases hold the most weight. 

The track that stayed the most in my head after my numerous listens ended up being the eighth track, “eBay Purchase History.” The fact that this is the title of the song intrigued me, but what made it memorable is how the phrase was used throughout the lyrics. Webster is essentially expressing how, if someone were to snoop in her eBay purchase history, it would tell a lot about her. There are so many ways one could share how to understand them better, and the artist conveys this playfully on top of this mellow melody and delightful production. 

Underdressed at the Symphony is simply a great add-on to Webster’s discography and enriches it to the maximum. From smooth and catchy vocals to raw and vulnerable lyrics along with the uniformity of warm-sounding instruments, this project is proof that Faye Webster never disappoints. 

Score: 9/10

Trial Track: “eBay Purchase History”

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