Faye Webster’s I Know I’m Funny haha feels like a summer rainstorm. In the somber warmth and haze of her words, the 23-year-old indie artist unlocks a floodgate of emotions with each tear-stained ballad. I Know I’m Funny haha is uniquely beautiful because of Webster’s honesty, paired with her keen ability to counter the melancholy blues of sadness with touches of amber-imbued country and R&B.
On her last album, the 2019 record Atlanta Millionaires Club, Webster solidified her knack for storytelling and writing the platonic ideal of a sad song. I Know I’m Funny haha continues to explore these same aches of longing and isolation, but in the time between, Webster has weathered the throes of a relationship amidst social isolation and her own rising indie stardom. She meets mundane daily pangs of loneliness and unexpected swells of happy tears with impressive level-headedness.
“Better Distractions,” the project’s opening track and lead single, landed on former President Barack Obama’s “Favorite Music of 2020 List,” and in many ways encapsulates the solitude of the past year and a half in quarantine. Webster describes an unsuccessful search for distraction from her troubled love life in unavailable friends, singing, “Got two friends that I could see, but they got two jobs and a baby / I just wanna see you.” Whether intentionally or not, Webster’s pining and search for “better distractions” from this absent love interest mirrors the feeling of disconnection many felt from loved ones during the pandemic.
“Kind Of” is a breathtaking groove of soft drums and keyboard, and a tale of blossoming new relationships. Webster reflects on the pessimism of her past and moving out of her comfort zone, crooning, “I’ve always been the type to see all the bad before all the good things / Haven’t written the song in a minute / Haven’t been in love forever / But I’m looking at you, you’re looking at me at every single possible angle.”
The album’s titular track details the daunting experience of meeting a partner’s family, reminiscing, “I think your sisters are so pretty / Got drunk and they forgot they met me / I made her laugh one time at dinner / She said I’m funny and then I thanked her / But I know I’m funny haha.” She punctuates these simultaneously fraught and rewarding moments with a sardonic “haha,” as if to soften the awkwardness of her recollection.
This isn’t the only time Webster’s dry humor peeks through the project’s emotional veneer. On the track “A Dream With a Baseball Player,” she recounts a crush she used to have on Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr, and sings, “There’s so much going on / My grandmother’s dead / And I can’t sleep ’cause this isn’t my bed / He doesn’t even know those things exist.” Her baseball crush is the definition of unrequited love but serves as more of a funny anecdote to look back on rather than a heart-crushing and prolonged yearning. Webster eventually met Acuña at a game, and stated, “It was so anticlimactic. Not in a bad way, it was just like, ‘OK, he doesn’t give a fuck about me.’ I’ve spent two years obsessing over this person who will not remember meeting me after tonight.” It’s the kind of fleeting infatuation that none of us are immune to.
Webster’s Atlanta roots are central to her music, whether it be home-team heartthrobs or the soft country instrumentals that characterize her unique sound. Steel guitar twangs, gentle layers of washboard and electric organ whirs flow with soulful bass lines in perfect harmony. Webster paints pictures of neighborhood porch gossip on “I Know I’m Funny haha” in true Southern fashion, with a kind of unhurried probing to her voice. In a recent interview, Webster revealed she only records vocals on Garageband and rarely in a studio, which might explain her music’s intrinsically home-grown feel even more.
The specifics of Webster’s misadventures and quiet victories in love are not always universal, but the project still remains as intimate and unrestrained as a stream-of-consciousness journal entry or candid conversation with a friend. I Know I’m Funny haha is the quintessential album for the lazy lulls of summer, and the multi-seasonal growing pains of love and self-growth.
Daily Arts writer Nora Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.