Bry Webb's debut solo album has all the makings of a Canadian indie classic.
When your CV has “former Constantines frontman” on it, it’s likely that anything you put out as a side project is predestined for Canadian indie success. Shit-tonnes of indie cred aside, Provider, the debut solo foray of Bry Webb, still features all the elements of #1 albums on the last page of Exclaim!, with all the !earshot campus radio listings. For instance, is there a pedal steel? Yes, the instrument is featured prominently (and played expertly by Mike Brooks). Want to hear some wistful lady harmonies? Skip to “Zebras,” the third track on the album. But, you ask, does the album feature bucolic Canadian imagery, reminiscent of Harvest? As Webb sings on “Rivers of Gold” (streaming at right), “I was working in a gold rush city/I was playing in a band.” Check.
All Canadian generalizations aside, the album shows Webb’s massive versatility for songwriting. In the span of one album, his vocals go from the early Springsteen grit, on “Asa” and “Lowlife,” to sounding like a slightly more sentimental Leonard Cohen, on “Zebras” and “Persistent Spirit.” The album was recorded live off the floor, which is not an easy feat, and it adds a certain magical quality to the album. Like the side projects of his fellow ex-bandmates, Webb’s Provider is decidedly slower and more laid-back than anything the Constantines ever released. That said, our favourite track on the album was still “Ex-Punk,” because as nice as the rest of the album sounds, it reminded us of how great Webb sounds with drums underneath.
Take note: if you’re trying to hook up with your crush, turn on an episode of Planet Earth, put it on mute, and start playing this album. Provider is also a suitable replacement for Bon Iver for all your post-coital needs.