A&E Review

Faye Webster is Sad Again on “Underdressed at the Symphony” 

Faye Webster’s “Underdressed at the Symphony” Album cover. Photo Courtesy of Spotify.

Album by album, Faye Webster has slowly been transcending the world of indie-pop music. She is unafraid to dip her toes into a wide array of genres, and her new album, “Underdressed at the Symphony,” only proves her ability to merge and even bend genres. 

Webster is an Atlanta-based singer-songwriter whose genre influences span from country to R&B. Pair that with apathetic Gen Z-esque lyrics and you have an artist that is bound to flourish in the 2020s. 

Webster got an early start in the music industry after self-releasing her first album “Run and Tell” at age 16. The album’s heavy country influences make it stand as somewhat of an anomaly in Webster’s catalog. It’s not like the twang doesn’t show up in later albums (Webster is a serial slide guitar user) but it’s more seamlessly embedded alongside other influences. 

Webster found her footing in later albums like 2019’s “Atlanta Millionaire’s Club” and 2021’s “I Know I’m Funny haha.” Both albums sharpened Webster’s sound and displayed her musical versatility. On top of that, her songwriting was increasingly vulnerable in the most relatable ways. 

The most interesting work in Webster’s catalog is her EP “Car Therapy Sessions,” in which Webster revamps songs off of “I Know I’m Funny” with a live orchestra behind her vocals, creating heavenly almost cinematic arrangements. It was an interesting exploration for Webster, and any modern-day pop artist for that matter. It only furthered her inspiration for her latest album “Underdressed at the Symphony.” 

This most recent project has only solidified Webster’s identity and laid-back sound. From the first track “Thinking About You,” you can tell she is much more comfortable in her own shoes. Rather than feeling like she’s pulling from other artists, the song feels overwhelmingly Faye Webster.

She lets the song run for nearly six and a half minutes, and the back half of the track turns into somewhat of a jam session as Webster repeats the chorus several times over the catchy guitar riff. 

Webster’s use of repetition is never overdone on the album, except for maybe on “But Not Kiss,” where she repeats the chorus of “yeah” 12 times at the end of the song. I don’t think Webster is using repetition to get songs stuck in your head, rather she’s finding a groove and allowing herself to flow with it for a while. 

Webster shows her versatility through her collaboration with high school classmate and Atlanta rapper Lil Yachty on “Lego Ring,” a playful, downright silly song about Webster’s desire to own a LEGO ring and one that hurts her finger at that. Webster masks her voice behind a vocoder on the track and a few others as well. 

Webster’s self-proclaimed favorite track, “Feeling Good Today,” heavily alters her vocals, somewhat unfamiliar territory for Webster, but she makes it work. The lyrics are simple but deeply layered, a consistent pattern in her work. Rather than traditional pop lyrics it sounds like an auto-tuned therapy session with a close friend as she sings “I ate before noon / I think that’s pretty good for me.” 

Webster couldn’t get away with at least one slide guitar-infused heartbreak song with the album’s title track. On it, she desperately throws the question out into the void “Are you doing all the same things?” and answers her own questions shortly after with a simple “I doubt it.” 

The reason Webster has seen such a steady rise to indie stardom is because of these random, almost overly vulnerable lyrics. Not many artists are literally singing about accomplishing eating a meal before noon, but it’s resonating with Gen Z. 

She even titles a track on the album “Wanna Quit All the Time,” where she sings about the pressure of this newfound fame and how she simply doesn’t want to do it half the time. There is relatability in that, as much of Gen Z is growing older and finding the pressure of everyday life insurmountable. Not to mention Webster’s profound frustration with her own romantic life, a shared sentiment among many 20-something-year-olds, as terms like “situationships” and “icks” plague the dating scene.

I’m not saying that Webster is the voice of a generation, but I’m saying she has the potential to be. She’s on an upward trajectory and her choruses and hooks have the catchiness to become a viral TikTok sound. On top of that, she has a Kurt Cobain-like indifference toward her music. I think that’s where great art comes from; when the artist is making the art for themselves and not necessarily a target audience. Her music and “Underdressed at the Symphony” in particular, is one long therapy session and her catharsis is unbelievably contagious.