Sometimes they’re supple and bittersweet, while on other occasions they’re rather buxom and comely. Soft in “Whispers,” sharp as dried pine needles in “Hike Up the Valley,” the guitars that comprise half of every exquisite harmony in Webster’s Wheel’s Rest My Weary I’s are undisputedly some of the best you’re going to hear on an acoustic record this year. Webster’s Wheel aren’t stingy with the lush instrumentation in Rest My Weary I’s – truth be told, this is a folk duo that embraces excess even in the most minimalist of settings (check out “Shepard Boy” and “Courting of More” to understand what I’m talking about). There hasn’t been a whole lot of quality indie folk music lately, and personally, I think this is exactly the type of LP we needed this spring.
I absolutely love the marriage between the vocals and the strings in “Static Bloom,” “Hope You Enjoy It” and “Wear I’s.” There’s never a moment when they feel like separate components within the master mix; they’re kinetically attached and filling the space where drums and a bassline would in a rock song. Webster’s Wheel were very wise to steer clear of any kind of fluff in Rest My Weary I’s, not only because of how foolish it would have been critically but because of how disrespectful it would be to the audience. Every artist aims for acclaim, but it’s pretty obvious that this pair of musicians were particularly aware of their mission’s ultimate goal when making this virgin LP.
The flow of the tracklist feels supremely natural, as though we’re listening to a studio recreation of a live concert (a wonderfully surreal concept given the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent quarantine it’s triggered). I wouldn’t alter the placement of any songs here; “Capital G” segues into “Hike Up the Valley,” “Take a Stroll” and “Weary I’s” without skipping a beat. The skip button is never necessary in this record, and though I prefer to listen to it straight-through without any interruptions, I will say that playing this album on shuffle invites a slightly different narrative to its overall content. Progressive songwriting on this level isn’t common among hipster folk artists, which only makes this duo’s sound even more appealing to pickier critics like myself.
Webster’s Wheel have a message they want to share with the world in Rest My Weary I’s, and from my perspective, it’s that they’re fed up with the inefficiently-stylized overindulgence that has penetrated their favorite genre of music. There’s a rebelliousness to their rookie album that doesn’t reveal itself to us through cosmetics and the typical surface fodder that casual listeners tend to focus on more than serious audiophiles would. It’s something I really want Webster’s Wheel to explore in the next batch of studio sessions they engage in, but all things considered, I would deem Rest My Weary I’s to represent the best features of black and white songcraft within contemporary indie folk. They’ve got a couple of rough edges that could use some sanding, but in the big picture, I can’t wait to hear more from these two soon.