Cody Webb’s first outing from his behind the scenes work as one of Nashville’s most promising up and coming songwriters is a six song EP with a remarkable ability for straddling a variety of genres. Much like many modern efforts in the country field, rock influences color Webb’s music in a variety of ways, but the effect is never consistent. Webb manages to balance those leanings adeptly against his penchant for pure country music vocal phrasing and the obvious importance he places on melody. Melodies, instrumental and vocal, carry Cody Webb’s songwriting to its impressive heights, but his instrumental talents are fully displayed here too. Webb is a surprisingly rough and tumble guitarist with a lean, sinewy sound that helps stamp each of the songs with an unique signature. The production renders everything in the sharpest of relief – there’s instrumental clarity across the board and it’s evenly placed against Webb’s clarion clear vocals.
His self-titled debut opens with the radio-ready gem “More Than A Little”. The first song has an unique combination of gravel and grins – Webb sounds unwaveringly authentic in his vocal approach, but also immensely likeable. The melodic accessibility of this song and other material on the EP helps set it apart from many of Webb’s peers. The melodies aren’t immediately reminiscent of more iconic artists and, ultimately, have the intangible hook necessary for embedding themselves in a listener’s consciousness long after the last note fades. “She Ain’t Right” casts Webb in the role of man unexpectedly bewitched by a lady, but the tone is never cynical or dark. It wallows in a little light humor that Webb vividly conveys. The heavy-handed drumming opening the song conjures up the specter of rock, but it softens as the song develops while still providing the song with a stiffer backbone than you might at first suspect.
“My My My Girl” has a crackling, but pensive edge that sets it apart from the remainder of Webb’s material. The approach is nuanced, focused on creating textures, and ignores any showboating. The musicians and production sensibilities driving the work on Webb’s self-titled first release have a song first philosophy accompanied by an admirable sense of restraint. The restraint infuses each of the EP’s six songs with the unmistakable flavor of good taste and tempers their more overtly commercial aspects. “Love Me Like I’m Gone” is the first evidence on the EP that Webb can elevate his game to tackle the big screen country anthem. It’s a little understated for examples of that particular form, but the slight sense of holding back lends it a little depth it might have not otherwise possessed. The EP’s concluding song, “Better At Night”, is an outright example of the form at its finest, but it isn’t painfully obvious. Webb hits a number of venerable tropes with his writing, but each of those moments is informed with his personality in such a way that they are far from being any sort of rehash.
Cody Webb has scored big with this release. It is difficult to imagine six better songs to put his best foot forward with and his undoubted conviction presenting them will win him over countless fans.
9 out of 10 stars.