You don’t have to be the biggest folk fan in the world to know that when Webster’s Wheel enters the studio to make music, they mean big business for the genre, but serious folk aficionados are already aware of what their new album Yum Yum Pie means. Once again, Marie Robertson and Daniel Lee Webster return to the recording process with a knack for conjuring up unspoken grooves as easily as they can sensuous harmonies, both of which are found plentifully in songs like “Part and Parcel” and the showstopper “Warf Air.” Even without percussion in this record, movement is everywhere we look and listen.
The tracks “Can’t Be a Prophet,” “Sparkle Eyes” and “With My Hat” are produced with a lot of old-fashioned country stylizations, but I wouldn’t deem them straight-up throwbacks to a different period in American musical history. Both Webster and Robertson like to mix some flavors of old with new ideas and points of aestheticism not normally employed by artists in their peer group, and though there is plenty of vintage Nashville and even a touch of ragtime tucked into the patchwork of these songs’ melodies, there’s never enough of one particular component present for me to describe any part of Yum Yum Pie as being basic or even remotely generic.
Moving past the more countrified influences here, “With My Hat,” “All This Time,” “In the Turnstile” and “Diamond Floor” are all representing as deep a strain of folk as one can find outside of the storied underground in Kentucky and Appalachia. Mainstream country and folk musicians just aren’t enjoying the kind of space that this duo grants us here, and with the aid of a smooth production stylization, they get as much room to spread out and occupy the studio with their mammoth voices as is necessary for us to feel everything that they’re feeling here.
Webster’s Wheel’s vocal chemistry is my favorite element in Yum Yum Pie, and even in songs where it’s not necessarily the focal point of the biggest harmonies (such as in “Warf Air,” “Part and Parcel” and “Yum Yum Pie”), they contribute so much to any given narrative in the tracklist that the music could be interpreted in a completely different fashion were it performed by anyone but these two talented performers. They’re not the only artists in the folk genre making a big splash this fall, but there’s no comparing their singing style to anyone else in the game – period.
When it comes to making killer folk music, Webster’s Wheel is the pair to go see, as you will find when listening to any of the nine songs included in the fantastic Yum Yum Pie.
Supported by rigorously disciplined lead vocals and attention to some details that other performers would simply ignore altogether, Yum Yum Pie is a record that demands a lot out of Marie Robertson and Daniel Lee Webster only to ironically reward us with some of the most searing content they’re ever put on master tape. The bottom line? It’s a ten out of ten if you love golden roots LPs as much as I do.