BRY WEBB opens for Feist at Massey Hall on December 1. See listing. Rating: NNN
On his first solo album, former Constantines vocalist/guitarist Bry Webb effectively puts to work the "keep it simple, stupid" approach. The story is that he'd tried to record many of these songs previously as the Harbourcoats but got caught up in endless multi-tracking that left him with songs so densely layered that their essence was lost.
On this go, he opts for lots of breathing room (as well as the most exquisite red-black-and-gold artwork packaging, courtesy of Standard Form). It's mostly just softly plucked, atmospheric guitar and Webb's weary vocals building up songs that are achingly slow, sombre and intimate. There are subtle horn parts by Colin Stetson, buoyant backup vocals by Evening Hymns and Jennifer Castle, hints of lap and pedal steel and upright bass.
You're left to settle back and focus on the lyrics' imagery. A little hawk in a magnolia tree. A sky-fallen river. A zebra standing on the moon.
Top track: Get You Up In Peace