Webster’s Wheel – Rest My Weary I’s (LP)

Led by a gusty vocal harmony that is stinging with emotionality, “Hope You Enjoy It” kicks off the debut album from Webster’s Wheel, Rest My Weary I’s, with a passionate but reserved rhythm that will take us directly into the arms of “Shepard Boy.” One part Alex Dingley outtake, another part poetic reinterpretation of 60’s folk-pop, “Shepard Boy” is the anchor of the first act in Rest My Weary I’s, but I’d stop short of calling it the most powerful song on the album. “Capital G” maintains the flood of honeysweet melodicism coming at us full-force, and though we’re only three tracks into the LP, it’s already quite clear that Webster’s Wheel are looking to play with the heavyweights in this gorgeous first record.

“Hike Up the Valley” swings a little more than the songs that precede it here, but in terms of tonal communicativeness, “Take a Stroll” is one of the most moving tracks I’ve listened to this year. Boasting an Americana influence that isn’t as prominent in the other songs in Rest My Weary I’s, “Take a Stroll” is far more than a bridge from “Hike Up the Valley” to “Weary I’s;” it’s a statement piece about who this act is. It can be difficult to establish something like that in a virgin LP, but that didn’t stop Webster’s Wheel from trying – and succeeding – without a lot of detectible hesitation in their performance. That’s worth applauding all by itself, especially when you think about how minimal the success rate for such an endeavor is.

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If “Shepard Boy” is the Act I’s primary linchpin, “Static Bloom” serves the same function in Act II of Rest My Weary I’s. As we get further along in the tracklist, the music here starts to feel more theatrical than it did in the ethereal “Hope You Enjoy It.” “Courting of More,” “Whispers” and “Finch In a Hollow” are drawn together like segments of a dream that doesn’t make any sense until you get some distance from it, which is definitely the case with the latter half of the album. Even if it takes more than cursory examination of Rest My Weary I’s to appreciate its complexities in all of their glory, it’s a task that I would implore any music buff to undertake this year.

Webster’s Wheel’s brilliant debut wraps up on the back of another throwback folk number in “Glad I Prayed,” bringing to mind the same 60’s pop elements that were teased in the LP’s opening salvo. Though I’ve spent more time with this record than I was initially expecting to coming into this review, I can honestly say that it unfolds a little more with every listening session. There’s something strangely enigmatic about the cut and dry nature of the music here, and if it’s any sort of indication as to what Webster’s Wheel are going to produce in the future, this will not be the last occasion on which their work makes it into the headlines across the American indie underground.

Clay Burton