Cody Webb – Self-Titled
There’s a major push behind one of Nashville’s latest bright talents, Cody Webb, and every bit of the hype is deserved. His self-titled six song debut EP is a vibrant and style-spanning collection with instrumental prowess to spare and an inspired attitude that cuts across genre with confidence and skill. Webb’s country leanings are peppered a great deal by rock and pop influences, but melody remains the critical element driving these songs. His capacity for invention is considerable and his instincts for weaving melody through his instrumental attack and presenting accessible, uncluttered musical landscapes. This is thoughtful music that, in turns, brings a smile to the face. Webb’s vocal tenor is that of a steady friend, someone listeners can count on to deliver the goods time after time. His growing experience as a live performer informs these songs with a practical aesthetic resisting even the faintest hint of self indulgence.
The opener “More Than a Little” has a low-key rock edge supplied mainly by Webb’s guitar. It isn’t overstated and the song prospers from his unwillingness to engage in any sort of six string heroics. Webb, likewise, has an equally confident vocal tone and dispatches the lyrical content with a cool confidence that elevates the material. The EP’s second cut, “She Ain’t Right”, plays up comical strengths in his songwriting while still maintain a strict focus on delivering compelling melodies and instrumental textures. The same cool confidence exuding from his vocal on the first track comes through on this track as well, but it has an added edge of the brash, relishing the song’s obvious humorous peaks. “My My My Girl” is full of wiry guitar lines, clusters of notes, and a sense of patience and deliberation that isn’t as key to earlier songs. This gives this particular track a lot more nuance than those earlier efforts and the result is a welcome change of pace at the album’s midway point.
The second half of the EP eschews the meditative in favor of the universal. The first song in this direction, “Love Me Like I’m Gone”, has enough chest-beating passion to power two tracks, but Webb and his collaborators never go overboard stressing the song’s dramatic elements. “Nothin’ on You” reverts some to the songwriting mode dominating the first half of the release, but the strong chorus here is clearly aimed at a wider audience. The culmination of these efforts comes with the EP’s final song, “Better at Night”. Instead of playing to its obvious implications, Webb can’t help but hit on those key points while still spinning the song in his own distinctive way. It has a rousing spirit that finishes off this debut on a very high, energetic note.
Few young artists, regardless of genre, could ever hope for such an auspicious launch. Press pushes can help, certainly, but ultimately the artist has to back it up on recording and live. Cody Webb is a spectacular success on both counts. This is songwriting aimed at striking an universal chord in us all.
9 out of 10 stars.