Country Music People Magazine | August 2017
Last year I gave James Robert Webb’s album Pictures a three star review in this magazine and said I felt he wasn’t doing anything that scores of other artists were not also doing .... well, I am happy to say now he is. The writing has matured and the delivery has acquired hooks that make the listener sit up and take notice.
It would be easy to suggest the highlight of this album is the clever choice and treatment of two cover versions. Several people have recorded George Strait’s Nobody In His Right Mind Would’ve Left Her, including the excellent Keith Whitley and more recently Jon Pardi, and luminaries including Alan Jackson, Josh Turner and Leann Rimes have all released credible versions of The Possum’s He Stopped Loving Her Today. What the man manages to achieve here is the impression these songs were written for him; and in fact the treatments, especially of the latter, might actually lead some younger fans to think they were.
However the self penned tracks are equally as good. James Robert Webb has a classy and classic country vocal style and he has written some mighty ne songs to show it off. There is still the unashamed Brooks and Dunn style, especially in Honky Tonk Revival and Hard Workin’ Women but with Kix and Ronnie not releasing new product this is a refreshing touch of nostalgia. Similarly Man On A Mission could have been an Alan Jackson single fteen or so years ago and is possibly the most obvious radio play on the album (complete with AJ’s trademark long play out). I particularly enjoyed the lyrics of Call Me Anytime principally because they appealed to my sense of humour in several places, but all these songs are well constructed and demonstrate, for me anyway, that new country music in the traditional style is still able to make itself heard through the mire produced by the modern Nashville machine.
I believe Mr Webb is still a practicing physician which may account for the small number of forthcoming gigs on his website. A year ago I said I doubted I could sit through a whole show, but if these songs are what you get from the stage now I would be delighted to do so – and lead the shouts for more.
Chris Smith, Country Music People