At first listen, you might not guess that Faye Webster used to belong to a rap collective called PSA, rummaged through Offset's closet, or collaborated with rising hip-hop star Ethereal. Webster's music elicits images of sitting on the front porch on a dewy summer morning, drinking sweet tea ... and then pulling out a fat joint and listening to some Aaliyah. In fact, the 21-year-old Atlanta native cites Detroit's late pop star as a main source of inspiration for her upcoming record, Atlanta Millionaires Club, due May 24. Its lead single "Kingston" is a strong, glimmering sample of Webster's blunt, emotional, and fluid songwriting style — a style that is the result of introspection, individualism, and her hometown of Atlanta.
Before Webster released her first full-length album in 2017, she was collaborating with mainstays in Atlanta's hip-hop scene as an artist on Awful Records. She describes her experience there as "both an outsider and an insider" as a white woman singing R&B and hip-hop hooks. Collaborating with Awful artists is where Webster says she first found her voice: one night, while trying not to wake her parents, she found herself adding gentle and wispy vocals to a track by Awful Records' Ethereal. And that's the sound that stuck.
Her calm and collected voice makes for a deliciously ironic pairing with Ethereal lyrics like "Your girl put me on repeat / she 'gon let me skeet" in "They Say." Insider or outsider, Webster's immersion and love for Atlanta's hip-hop scene is engrained in the artist that she is today. "Atlanta is extremely diverse, which I think is why I [incorporate] different styles into my music," Webster tells Metro Times. "I wouldn't make the music I make today if I didn't grow up here."
While Webster's affinity to write a hot hip-hop hook shines through in the catchiness of her songs, there's also a serenity and wisdom that's rarely found in a 21-year-old songwriter. Exhibit A: the attempt to write a song that's not about love or relationships. Don't get me wrong, the heartbreakers like "Alone Again" and "What's the Point?" off her self-titled record are jarring and perfect, but who can't relate to a song about just wanting to stay home in your pajamas?
"I have a lot of trouble with trying to not write about romance, so this song is so special to me and I love it so much because I'm not writing it for anybody other than me," Webster explains in the album's press release. The song sounds like a mini-vacation set in a cozy 1970s living room; Webster utilizes pedal steel in a way that doesn't conjure Rascal Flatts nightmares, and conveys a sense of being a homebody without sounding pretentious or self-serving, which makes sense for an artist who says her ideal writing setting is "my house while my dog is sleeping."
All signs point to a genuine and talented artist who is carving a path solely on her own terms, and both "Room Temperature" and "Kingston" set the stage for a smart, genre-bending sophomore record for the prodigious songwriter.
"I think a lot of songs on here I would have been too scared to put on my other albums, thinking that they wouldn't fit," says Webster. "So with this record I kind of just poured my heart out into my music."
Faye Webster opens for Stella Donnelly on Monday, March 25 at Deluxx Fluxx, 1274 Library St., Detroit; 313-788-7015; deluxxfluxx.com. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12. Show is 21+ only.
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