Published May 16, 2014With all the talk of the Constantines reunion this summer, Bry Webb's second solo record risks being overshadowed by the return of the art-punk giants. And that's a shame: the pensive and patient side of Webb's songwriting first began to show itself on Constantines' last record, 2008's Kensington Heights, and then on his 2011 solo debut, Provider.
The strides he's made to fully realize his vision on Free Will are incredibly evident: the at times ambiguous poetry of past releases has disappeared and what remains is a vivid take on the world around him. It's less brooding and haunting, and more spirited; there is clarity not only in Webb's lyrics but also in the direction and build of his tracks that certainly suggests Webb is now in the place he's always wanted to be as a songwriter.
"You can't civilize me/ I keep running back/ Just keep running back/ To where I want to be" he sings on lingering album opener "Fletcher." Webb has always shied away from making grand proclamations of his ethos, so this may be as close to a defining statement as we'll get from the 36-year-old.
"The more fucked up things get/ The more I love you" he sings on the crackling "Let's Get Through Today," which Webb transforms from a simple slice of finger-picking melancholia into a cinematic outburst. "AM Blues" shuffles pleasantly, with more quiet hoots than vicious snarls. Throughout Free Will, Webb sounds calm and inviting, having seemingly settled into his mid-30s. It suits him incredibly well.
Read our Questionnaire with Bry Webb here. (Idée Fixe)