Category: The Webb Sisters

Monday Exclusive: The Webb Sisters cover Tracy Chapman
and Leonard Cohen, and Judy Collins

April 18th, 2011 — 05:15 pm

A Cover Lay Down exclusive, today, thanks to some particularly savvy promo folks, who stoked my ego by naming me their No. 1 choice for an exclusive first peek at a new video from The Webb Sisters, in the hopes that it would lure me out of my recent hiatus. What can I say: I’m human, I’ve been itching to get to something more substantive and new since yesterday’s bird-themed coverfolk set marked our triumphant return to blogging, and I’m also on school vacation, looking out at a week of sand, surf, and solitude rather than the usual hectic homelife.

But the British-born sibling pair are absolutely worth coming out of hiding for, with a preference for lush, two-instrument arrangements that show strong influences from both the British and US folkpop traditions, and deep, beautiful, soaring, often heartbreaking brit harmonies, with the strong accents of their native Kent, that pull you in no matter the label you’re looking for. The combination of Hattie’s harp and mandolin and Charley’s guitar and piano is marvelous, at once ancient and modern. And their take on Tracy Chapman’s Baby Can I Hold You, which I am proud to introduce to the world, is comfortable and intimate, played on a couch with just acoustic rhythm guitar and what appears to be some sort of mandolin or oud. Check it out:

The Webb Sisters have hit the radar before, too. Touted as rising stars of the next generation by the likes of Leonard Cohen, Judy Collins, and Princess Anne, hand-picked to lend their talents for studio recordings and tours for Cohen, Sting, Natalie Maines, and Natalie Merchant, their version of If It Be Your Will – recorded live on tour in 2008, introduced by Cohen himself, with whom the sisters Webb have toured regularly – is a tour de force of femmefolk simplicity, stunningly fragile, delicate, icy, and prayerful, with harp and soaring vox and – barely – a guitar, that gently fills fragments of sparse silences. And the fuller, more contemporary, almost countrypop production which supports their appearance on mixed-bag 2008 Collins tribute Born To The Breed makes for a stand-out track which salvages a song I once considered too treacly to be covered effectively.

The Webb Sisters’ next full-length album, Savages, will drop on May 9th; promisingly, it was produced with multiple Grammy-winning Beatles A&R man Peter Asher’s guiding hand at the helm. Direct Current has described it as both a continuation and expansion of their previous work “from the more traditional-based U.K. folk…into more Americanized rootsy pop,” with both drive and “a lighter than air delicacy” throughout. Sounds like we’re in for a thing of beauty, indeed. Check out today’s bonus tracks, and then learn more at the Webb Sisters’ website.

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