Cody Webb – Self Titled EP

Cody Webb has, in the 200 live appearances he’s logged in some of country music’s most respected modern venues, amassed a bedrock mastery of the form emerging from every song on his debut effort. The six songs on his self-titled debut aren’t some hodgepodge collection of pop country poses, but instead fully formed compositions with discernible parts, yet no evidence of the inevitable stitching that goes into writing creative work.

Cody Webb makes it seems effortless. There isn’t a single song his debut that doesn’t sound like it emerged from him rather than followed some sort of process. Webb’s clear and precise voice, even twangy as it is, cuts through the mix and seizes on each phrase with equal parts playfulness and passion. By the conclusion of this debut EP, he will have completely entertained and moved your heart.

It helps, as well, that he’s such a capable player. The opener More Than A Little proves this isn’t just some pinup boy with modest songwriting facility. He’s also a top notch guitar player with a tough, unsentimental sound that doesn’t focus so much on drawing attention to itself but, rather, subsuming itself into the song. The vocal delivery has considerable panache and a little added gravitas for extra measure, but it’s Webb’s charm that powers much of its ultimate meaning.

She Ain’t Right takes a much more direct approach, but Webb infuses it with a surprising amount of tension. The lyrics have a light comedic twist, but he never overplays it and that helps the element add more to the song’s final effect. His EP opens on a strongly commercial note, but there’s more than a few inklings of the personality behind these performances coming through that it helps set it far apart from much more workmanlike artists.

My My My Girl percolates much of its first half but has a consistent dynamic build that soon brings it to full boil. Webb’s charismatic delivery, once again, carries the day.

The EP hits its stride at the midway point with Love Me Like I’m Gone. This simple inversion is a staple of country songwriting, but Webb never drags his songwriting into outright imitation. Once more, despite the commercial trappings of the music, this is where Webb’s art emerges in full. This isn’t some soulless performer cashing in on the style of the day in hopes it propels him into the national spotlight. Instead, Webb’s music plays like creative utterance from a genuine artist using a popular vehicle for self-expression.

The EP’s final song, Better at Night, has stronger anthemic muscle than any other track on the release, but it isn’t some brainless ode to getting whiskey bent and hellbound in the wee hours of night. The lyrics have a celebratory air, but the music has multiple gears elevating this far above mere product.

Everything about his solo debut will strike listeners as a statement and entertainment in equal measure. Rarely do first time efforts in this genre result in such well rounded collections. In one condensed shot, Cody Webb’s first release defines himself going forward. This is an artist capable of anything.

9 out of 10 stars.

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