ALBUM REVIEW: Faye Webster – Undressed at the Symphony

Atlanta-based singer-songwriter Faye Webster returned with her fifth studio album, Underdressed at the Symphony, under Secretly Canadian, on March 1, 2024. She alongside producer Drew Vandenberg collaborated on the album’s production. Her long-time band set the mood with Webster’s familiar smooth blend of indie rock, country twang, folk, and R&B. Each song off the album were recorded live at the Sonic Ranch in Texas.

After a decade into her career, Webster’s intimate writing style of blending healing with humor is well recognized. Her songs, “I Know You” and “Right Side of My Neck” have gone viral on platforms, such as TikTok, for their raw, self-deprecating nature. On Underdressed at the Symphony, the 26-year old artist delivers more honest depiction of her day-to-day life while ruminating over her past. In under 37 minutes, the ten-song tracklist wanders and tangles itself with its wispy repetitions, straightforward lyrics, and lingering instrumentals.

Webster’s latest opens with six-and-a-half minute track, “Thinking About You.” Eventually, the title repeats as her band settles into a lazy gospel of piano and drums for the remaining runtime. This repetition is an essential to Webster’s brand; with every repeated phrase, she nudges listeners to pay attention to her often downtempo confessions. “And you said you were sure it’ll work out this time / I’m holding you to it, I knew you were right.”

Lead single, “But Not Kiss,” kicks off with sullen, almost hushed vocals before the singer abruptly picks up the mood. On this strong ballad, Webster contemplates her uncertain relationship. “I want to see you in my dreams but then forget / We’re meant to be but not yet,” she sings. Her band mirrors the indecisiveness lyrics as they fluctuate between intentional silences and waves of pedal steel guitar, drums, and bass.

On the fourth track, “Lego Ring,” Webster collaborates with lifelong friend and rapper Lil Yachty. At two minutes, the track mixes eccentric hip-hop with lighthearted mid-tempo rock, a typically uncommon mix that highlights the artists’ quirks. Infused with autotune, the two Atlanta natives playfully sing and rap: “I, I know what I like / I know what I want / But you know what I kinda need.”

Indie-rock anthem “He Loves Me Yeah!” is a charming twist from the relaxed aura of the previous tracks. The excitement saturating the simple yet loving lyrics ensures Webster has another internet-hit on her hands. “My baby loves me, yeah, he loves me, yeah / I think we’re perfect, yeah, we’re perfect, yeah” ; “I really like the way he holds me down / I pick his face out when he’s in the crowd / He pumps my gas so that I don’t get out.”

Webster embraces her usual sardonic melancholy on title track, “Underdressed at the Symphony.” She warbles, “I’m depriving myself of happiness / Something I’m really good at / I wanna see you again, see this is why I’m confusing,” over a twangy country melody. As she sings “symphony” in the chorus, a rapid, flourishing crescendo cuts her off—a rewarding risk as it takes listeners by surprise.

On “Tttttime,” the closing track, the singer narrates her typical day-to-day experience. She lulls, “I get lost in a song / Take a walk, call my mom / Don’t go out, anymore.” Towards the end, violins come in adding a sense of discomfort to the casual track. This swelling orchestra intensifies Underdressed at the Symphony‘s theme: facing the uncomfortable mood tied to being alone with your thoughts. Each genre incorporated into the record rises from this idea, embodying each aspect of Webster’s familiar yet growing potential.