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Made in Sunshine (LP) by Webster’s Wheel

Though a good chunk of the music industry suffered in 2020, acoustic artists had a surprisingly good year all things considered, with a flood of exciting new indie sounds coming into the spotlight and raising the standard for the next generation of singer/songwriters. In response to the competition, Webster’s Wheel are hitting 2021 as hard as they can with the beautifully simple Made in Sunshine, which is due to hit record store shelves this upcoming February. Bound to traditions within its own genre but not limited by the scope of micro-complexities embraced by many alternative folk records, Made in Sunshine is a powerfully honest LP that will almost certainly leave you curious to hear more from its creators – and perhaps a little more Americana in general.

The poetic value of songs like “Daisy Chain,” “Little Boy Blue,” “Grapes of Wrath,” “Friday Night” and “Well” extends well beyond the lyrics into the very manner in which the verses are delivered to us, which isn’t something I can say for a lot other folk tracks I’ve listened to this month. There’s a seamlessness to Webster’s Wheel’s execution that has yet to grow tiresome for me, and while they’re careful to avoid repeating the same formula multiple times in Made in Sunshine, they’ve definitely found a style of arranging – and performing – that I would call their trademark. To this pair, nothing is more important than preserving melodic integrity, but they aren’t willing to invite external elements into the mix to achieve their goal.

I love the resilient springiness of the harmonies in “No Thoughts Just Happy,” “Fourteen More,” the title cut, “Yet I Let” and “Zen is When.” From the moment we press the play button on any of these songs, we’re met with a carefree attitude that is undeniably infectious regardless of how urgent or relaxed the drawl might be. To say that the last year was a dark time for a lot of Americans wouldn’t be doing it justice, but Webster’s Wheel seem to be on a mission to right the ship with the most unsophisticated of heavenly harmonies they can string together in Made in Sunshine. It’s humble and yet overwhelmingly passionate, and that isn’t a combination I’ve been able to locate with any success in the mainstream or underground recently.

If you like contemporary indie folk as much as I do, you aren’t going to be disappointed in what Webster’s Wheel have hammered out in their new album Made in Sunshine this February. I’ve been keeping tabs on their development for a little while now, and though they’ve got a couple of rough edges that could be sanded down in the future, they aren’t showing anything but genuine promise in this collection of tracks. Made in Sunshine has a welcoming feel that is incredible to come across in times like these, and without portraying itself as a work of pretentiousness it still showcases everything its designers do best. This is a good time to be a folk fan, and records like this are the reason why.

John McCall

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