Credit: Pooneh Ghana
by Andrew Bosma Music Obscure Object

Faye Webster | I Know I’m Funny haha

July 8, 2021

Webster executes her evident vision on I Know I’m Funny haha, but the record’s sonic and thematic repetitions can sometimes feel like a slog.

23-year-old Faye Webster returns after a buzzy album cycle with I Know I’m Funny haha, another genre-bending Americana-adjacent record with a lot of heart and a unique approach to the familiar fodder of life, depression, and getting through the hard days. Given her instinct for subverting such norms, it shouldn’t surprise that her relationship with the music she makes is also unique.  Take, for example, the way she builds tracks: while she records with a full band that she’s worked with throughout her entire career, she completes all of her vocals in her kitchen on GarageBand rather than in a studio, trusting the band to fill in the appropriate accompaniments around her rather than the other way around. This might be why what initially sounds like a traditional country song can so easily turn into a lounge ballad, as the band swells for an extended musical breakdown. It may also be why she adds pedal steel to an R&B beat, a rejection of the traditions of both genres, instead marrying classic sonic rudiments in a new type of union, one that suits Webster’s singular voice and sensibility quite specifically.  The singer utilizes all of these unique features in support of lyrics that are similarly personal, often consisting of brief snapshots of her day-to-day existence. Here, such ruminations are largely fixed around time spent in isolation during the pandemic, and I Know I’m Funny haha accordingly runs an emotional gamut, from losing the joy of your old hobbies on opening track “Better Distractions” to solitude-inspired musings on unrequited love and relationships past on “Cheers” and “Half of Me.” Notably — and perhaps inevitably, given the circumstance and inspiration of their creation — the tracks on this album are patient, taking their time and even occasionally meandering about, the aforementioned breakdowns and rerun choruses and outros a sort of sonic replication of the boredom and monotony of seclusion. 

But it’s in this mission to mine and define loneliness that Webster hits something of a wall on I Know I’m Funny haha. The intentional repetition starts to become uninterestingly drone-y after a while, and her chosen thematics announce themselves early and overstay their welcome. And in her attempt to toe the line of distinctiveness and relatability, Webster leans hard into a quirky e-girl personality that can be off-putting (though some listeners will certainly find the performance endearing).  At its core, there’s no denying that the record is unlike any other to come out this year, despite the multitude of albums angling to be the definitive musical document of this micro-era of isolation and fear, nor that the tracks do come together in an admittedly unique way — often as intended, and occasionally not.  To that end, Webster mostly achieves what she sets out to, though the path to that destination makes some of the songs a real slog in the process.

Published as part of Album Roundup — June 2021 | Part 1.