Jamie Webster’s second album, Moments, whistles by with a brief running time of 35-minutes as the singer-songwriter shows off his enchanting storytelling credentials over ten captivating vignettes about the world that floats on around him.
On Moments, we learn a lot about Webster despite him not delving a significant deal about his own life, but his empathetic characteristics shine through. Instead, he takes his seat as a societal observer focusing on the human narrative rather than making sweeping vague statements about the decline of Britain.
Webster has quietly achieved his success gradually while working from the ground up, and even though he hasn’t been a regular fixture on radio playlists, the musician has shown that it is possible to break through without the blessing of traditional gatekeepers.
There’s a rare relativity to his songwriting which makes it easy to comprehend why Webster is connecting with people on an underground yet mass scale. His 2022 tour includes a homecoming date at the 11,500 capacity M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool, and Moments will only enhance his spectacular rise.
The compassionate opening track, ‘Davey Kane’, is Webster’s lamentation of the justice system, which he takes down through the tale of the young titular protagonist who is already in his third spell behind bars. While the character is fictional, there are plenty of Davey Kane’s out there who find themselves stuck in the trappings of petty crime with no fear of the so-called ‘punishment’.
He passionately sings, “Does it really work, this level of sheer confrontation? Would it be such a circus if you tried to educate them? But you gave him a number and took away his name, Nothing to say if you play it this way, Just another day in the life of Davey Kane.”
On ‘Days Unknown’, we find his protagonist dreams of one-day living a better life, not one full of diamonds, but a fulfilling existence with the person he loves. The 27-year-old also takes an enjoyable swipe at the ‘Tory hounds’ as he wears his man of the people badge with pride and screams: “The life for them, It’s not live for you, and for me”.
Lockdown loneliness is touched upon in the melodic ‘Knock On My Door’, and how among the stresses of life, the most crucial tonic is that sacred human touch. This topic pops up again on ‘Going Out’, where all the protagonist wants to do is hit the town with his friends and preaches how a royal knees-up is the perfect age-old remedy to cure the stresses of the working week.
The hopeful essence of Moments is epitomised by the sweet ‘Something In The Air’. On it, Webster breaks the third person narrative of the album to refreshingly sing about his own life and expresses his utmost appreciation for his partner, who can make even his worst days worthwhile.
Webster returns to storytelling on the delicate acoustic-driven ‘North End Kid’, a number about a protagonist on an estate who ‘takes his medicine’ and dreams of the bright lights of Broadway in his bedroom before returning to the real world where he’s ‘struggling to make ends meet’.
The bluesy closing track ‘What More?’ sees Webster try to be adventurous, and it backfires. While it’ll likely work at a live show, the material doesn’t align with the record’s theme and, unfortunately, brings a solid album to a lacklustre end.
The most riveting parts of Moments come when Webster authentically discusses genuine and heartbreaking tales of shattered dreams of those who walk the same streets as all of us, underpinned by an undeniable sense of optimism. Working-class life is often misrepresented in music, but Webster doesn’t fall guilty of becoming a pastiche of himself. There’s a compelling realism to all the colourful characters that crop up throughout the record rather than crass overblown generalisations, and it’s no wonder the people are continuing to take to him in their droves.
Moments is out now on Modern Sky.