Faye Webster: Autotherapy Session Album Review

Faye Webster knows the power of an arrangement. Never one to relegate her instrumentation to mere backup, she has a knack for underlining the emotional resonance of her words, whether it be a well-placed pedal steel mewl or a deftly relaxed bassline. Her typical compositions are lavish yet frugal and fit well with lyricism that is at once fragile and dry. But she’s trying something different with her new EP, Autotherapy Sessionsin which she and a 24-piece orchestra reimagine several songs from her last two records, 2019’s Atlanta Millionaires Club and those of 2021 i know i’m funny haha plus a new entry, “Car Therapy.”

Created and performed by Trey Pollard (Foxygen, Natalie Prass), these orchestral arrangements sound like love letters to Hollywood from the golden age. The instrumentation is strictly classical and Drew Vandenberg’s production is rich and gleaming. It’s an Easter egg hunt for fans to hear the details of the songs being translated. “Cheers (To You & Me)” most clearly illustrates the value of these transformations, based on Webster’s rockiest cut. Without the anchor of the original song’s robust drums, there’s a lingering swinging feel to the cellos as they mimic distorted guitar, giving the song a new, almost drunken swagger; the closing guitar solo, transposed to violin, ends the EP with a triumphant climax.

Webster, who has been recording live with the orchestra in prospect, has a lot of fun with her vocals: she masters them more tightly, bends them a little more and imbues them with new drama. But it is also clear that she is really moved by these beautiful interpretations of her songs. To meet the occasion, she delivers some of her best vocal performances to date, such as her tender, mesmerizing repetition of the chorus at the end of “Kind Of (Type of Way)”.

Most interesting is how the maximalism and heartfelt vintage homage of these interpretations takes away the defensive irony in Webster’s lyrics and exposes naked emotion in the exact same words. That’s evident even in the new song “Car Therapy,” as Webster quietly asks, “Hold my body and I’ll forget I hate me”*—*no “haha” here. Where the original “Sometimes” is a dreamy slow dance, this version – “Sometimes (Overanalyze)” – sounds like the heartbreaking final act of a musical, Webster alone and hopeless under a spotlight just before the curtain falls. And in the second half of ‘Suite: Jonny’, which combines a two-part track from Atlanta Millionaires ClubWebster puts her spoken word delivery on top of an instrumental that sounds like a score, turning a voicemail into a movie monologue. Like the rest of the EP, it’s daring, but Webster knows what she’s doing. These arrangements make her a star.

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Faye Webster: Autotherapy Sessions

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