Atlanta Millionaires Club is in Faye Webster’s feelings, and that’s the way she likes it. The new record from the 21-year-old Atlanta-native opens with a sighing, unflinchingly honest admission that, in Webster’s hands, almost sounds breezy: “Looks like I’ve been crying again, over the same thing.”
“Everything is way personal. I’ve never been that kind of person who can read a book and then write a song about the book,” Webster says. “I have to write about very personal things for me to even want to write.”
On Atlanta Millionaires Club, the omnipresence of pedal steel eschews bluegrass trappings, flexible under Webster’s genre-bending direction. Webster didn’t set out to make her new album sound like any artist in particular – in fact, she says the recording process was the opposite, trying to avoid sounding like any contemporaries – but she cites Aaliyah as her main musical inspiration for how she uses sound.
“That’s where I first heard, ‘Oh, there’s this weird guitar that’s bendy and it could totally be in a country song,’ but the way she’s using it is what makes her music so special to me,” Webster explains. “I try to do that. I try to change the way pedal steel is supposed sound, to use it differently than its traditional sound.”
Pulling from a familial lineage of folk storytelling and time spent in Atlanta’s hip-hop scene, Webster’s work is a study of duality, weaving through her own introversion and heartbreak; it’s an idiosyncratic sadness punctuated by fleeting observations and an unexpected, sly sense of humor. Webster lifted the Atlanta Millionaires Club title from the name her father used for his group of up-and-coming friends in grad school that went on to become a sponsored club that competed in 5k races and donut eating contests for charity, the name a showy, stark contrast with the friends’ reality.
As both an artist and a person, Webster is made up of contradictions. Like the way she takes the traditional instrumentation of Americana and flips it into something else, she uses her own calm, laid-back demeanor to assert that you can be confidently and unapologetically yourself in a quiet way, too.
Webster was writing her own songs by age fourteen, but expanded her musical horizons in high school when she joined a tight-knit creative collective of friends, a rap group called PSA, which marked the first time she started experimenting outside of her own songwriting and sang on other people’s tracks. Her collaboration with PSA led her to Atlanta rap collective Awful Records, where Webster says her presence was simultaneously both an outlier and an insider. Then, she happened upon her own voice: while recording on a track for Awful Records rapper Ethereal late one night, she sang quietly under her covers, trying to avoid waking her sleeping parents. That type of singing felt effortless to her; Webster decided it was the right fit.
Across Atlanta Millionaires Club, Webster’s feather-light vocals unfurl like a sigh, her voice and slinking hues of sleepy R&B acting as sonic through-lines on an album stitched together by intimate songwriting about lonesomeness in spite of Webster’s connection to a larger community. Opener “Room Temperature” recounts Webster’s day-to-day life, a study of introversion, of trying to being at peace with being alone. A rattling bass line and the fleeting twang of pedal steel simmer beneath her wispy vocals, a wondering refrain: “I should get out more.”
Webster explains, “I have a lot of trouble with trying not to write about romance, so this song is so special to me and I love it so much because I’m not writing for anybody other than me.”
“Kingston,” the first new song since her 2017 self-titled LP, is quintessential Faye Webster; in the haze of a humid Georgia summer, all lovestruck and dewy, while the dreaminess of “Flowers” has Webster singing over verses from longtime collaborator and Atlanta rapper, Father. “Pigeon” is about a long distance relationship where Webster actually did send a pigeon with a note all the way to her boyfriend’s house in Australia; “Right Side of My Neck” zeros in on the lingering scent and uncertainty of new love, built out with strings and brass, while “Hurts Me Too” looks at the end of it: “The day that I said I loved you, you didn’t say it in return. That was the day I realized that silence is actually heard.”
“There’s a lot of lonesomeness in Atlanta Millionaires Club,” Webster explains. “Sure, I can sing love songs, or songs about doing nothing, literally, but they all kind of go back to me being alone all the time.”
“On my last record I was afraid to say some things, or would try to change words just to make people feel better, people who know I’m writing about them,” Webster says. “But for Atlanta Millionaires Club I was just like, ‘That’s stupid, I should just write a song about Jonny and I’m not gonna change his name, ‘cause fuck it.’ I think I’m better at being really honest this time.”
On that track “Jonny,” Webster is unflinchingly direct, singing: “Jonny, do you see what you’re doing? What you’re making me think about? This wasn’t supposed to be a love song, but I guess it is now.” It’s one of the clearest moments, on a record full with personal songwriting, that showcases Webster’s acumen for being simultaneously and strikingly vulnerable and brave.
Announces Livestream Performance On October 6th
Following 2019's Acclaimed 'Atlanta Millionaires Club'
Faye Webster, the 21-year-old Atlanta-based singer-songwriter and decorated photographer, releases her third full-length album, 'Atlanta Millionaires Club,' today via Secretly Canadian. 'Atlanta Millionaires Club' is an album stitched together by intimate songwriting about lonesomeness in spite of Webster’s connection to a larger community.
Faye Webster - 21-year-old Atlanta-based singer-songwriter and decorated photographer - shares a new single, “Right Side of My Neck,” from her forthcoming album, 'Atlanta Millionaires Club,' due May 24th via Secretly Canadian.
There are currently no tour dates for Faye Webster