2008 – 11 Records
Folk/ Rock/ Alternative
Jason Webley’s fifth album The Cost Of Living is a real treat to listen to. Its mixture of gypsy-folk, intelligent rock, and well crafted poetry is really just lovely on the ears.
The wild strings in Still followed by the softness of Ways To Love are a great beginning to the record and they pave the way for the succession of nine other musically accomplished tracks that follow. And by the time we come to They Just Want (a track that is sneakily reggae) the listener is hooked. There is a tenderness in Webley’s voice that accentuate his melancholy and makes the understated sadness all that more believable, and the minimalism of most of the music really brings his well written poetry to the fore.
One downside to this record, however, is that we don’t really hear any of the interesting experimentalism that we get on some other of Jason Webley’s records. Personally, I think this album is somewhat subdued compared to his other work, but this is really a small gripe. I would also like to have heard a bit more of Webley’s signature accordion playing on The Cost Of Living, but it seems that here he has opted to put more emphasis on the strings on this record.
It is also worth mentioning that Meet Your Bride sounds incredibly similar melodically to Leonard Cohen’s The Guests, but I think this is probably more of an homage than bare faced plagiarism, and the track is sufficiently different to make it more than an uncredited cover.
In fact, I think that Mr. Webley really owes a lot to Mr. Cohen, and perhaps the comparisons that can be drawn between these two are better deserved than the comparisons I have heard drawn between Webley and Tom Waits. Both of these comparisons are, to my mind, very high praise and I would also say that, while these influences are present and apparent, Webley’s music comes across in no way as derivative. In fact, I might go so far as to say that his music is some of the most original I have heard in a long time.
Indeed I would recommend The Cost Of Living very highly, although I would also say that, after listening to his other records, it’s probably not the best album in his catalogue. But then again, being just below the top of very good is still very good, and I think that Jason Webley deserves credit where credit is due.
One of the many brilliant tracks from The Cost of Living