Some albums ought to come with disclaimers. Some albums just need to give a quick little hint as to what listeners should expect. I’m not talking about content warnings or anything crazy. Some albums just hit hard, and no one wants to be snuck up on by an album that hits too hard. Faye Webster’s Atlanta Millionaires Club needs a disclaimer: “This album hits fucking hard.”
Webster, always dressed to the nines in retro clothing and armed with her trusty Nintendo Switch and at least one of her many yo-yos, gives off an undeniable air of fun-loving youthfulness, which makes sense — she is only 21 years old. Her songs, on the other hand, convey profoundly relatable sadness and loneliness reaped by heartbreak. This is in no small part a product of her incredible songwriting. On her debut for label Secretly Canadian, Webster continues to develop this craft.
On Atlanta Millionaires Club, not only does she sharpen her songwriting, but she also expands her sonic palate. Her brand of alternative music has always had a sound rooted in confessional country music. This time, however, she really leans into this sound by introducing a woozy, dream-like slide guitar, reminiscent of Mike Cooper’s Trout Steel. It brings depth to her sound; it becomes almost like an extension of Webster herself. It’s light and airy, but it conveys such raw emotion as it resonates throughout each song, starting with album opener “Room Temperature.”
As each line of “Room Temperature” comes to a close, the slide guitar bends the otherwise high-spirited riff into a somber reflection on lines like, “Nothing means anything, at least anymore / Even my tears have gone room temperature.” As Webster delivers her lyrics, the slide guitar cements them into the listeners’ brains, forcing them to ruminate on each line and that line’s role within the song as a whole. It is almost as if the slide guitar is a nonverbal vehicle for Webster to relay her feelings to the listeners.
Faye Webster should put up a clinic for writing simple, addictive songs. Instead of being mindlessly addictive and punishingly repetitive, the songs are actively addictive, begging listeners to dig in and unearth the emotion buried within each song. Anyone can understand her lyrics. They’re not overly verbose, and they certainly don’t leave much to the imagination. More importantly than just understanding her lyrics, though, listeners can connect with them because everyone has felt lonely and had their heart broken at some time. On “Jonny,” Webster sings, “I want to be happy / Find a man with an old name just like me / And get over how my dog is my best friend / And he doesn’t even know what my name is.” Lyrics like these are deeply sad, but not to the point of inaccessibility. Everyone knows how it feels to desperately flee loneliness and seek intimacy with someone who will truly understand them.
All of Atlanta Millionaires Club follows this theme, and it’s beautiful. It might hurt, but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful. Webster has the ability to write songs that will resonate with everyone in some way. Her lyrics accomplish this, but so does the instrumentation. The instrumentation of each song perfectly supports and accentuates Webster’s lyrics, and it does so in stunning ways. The jaunty and meandering “Pigeon” and the crushingly straightforward “Hurts Me Too” are prime examples that must be heard to understand this synergy between the lyrics and instrumentation.
Atlanta Millionaires Club will hit every listener, and it will hit every listener hard. Each song sounds amazing, and each song is an earworm filled with quotables. Each song will sit with listeners for far longer than any song ought to sit, and each song will affect listeners, even if they didn’t go into it hurting. You need a disclaimer for an album like this, just so you’re sure of what you’re getting into.