Album review: The Webb Sisters, Savages

By Graham Reid

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The Webb Sisters. Photo / Supplied
The Webb Sisters. Photo / Supplied

Best known in the wider world as part of Leonard Cohen's touring band - the backing vocalists, multi-instrumentalists and cartwheelers - Charley and Hattie from Kent have at the studio desk here uber-producer, heavy-hitter and fan Peter Asher (James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt, long-time senior vice-president at Sony).

And you can guess they aren't short of studio talent either: drummers Jay Bellerose and Russ Kunkel, guitarist Dean Parks, organ player Neil Larsen (also in Cohen's band) and others.

But it's a curiously unaffecting album where 80s pop-rock (think Stevie Nicks on the title track) sits uneasily alongside material such as Baroque Thoughts and the clunking lyrics of Words That Mobilise which are grounded in anglofolk (but as played and polished by LA session players, with Hattie's harp).

And there is mainstream radio pop (Call This a Life, Burn) of no fixed purpose - as well as a live take of Cohen's If It Be Your Will with Leonard's spoken word intro before the Webbs take it over for their earnest treatment.

It seems even more odd in this context, although does lead into a bracket of quieter songs.

I think some of these songs were on the Webbs' EP available at the Cohen concert, but I was so underwhelmed by it I seem to have misplaced it. The same fate awaits this.

Stars: 2.5/5
Verdict: Late-career Leonard's backing vocalists step out again, with mixed results
Buy Savages

-TimeOut / Elsewhere.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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