Well, it's not quite a wet t-shirt shot, dang it!, but Wendy Webb appears in a head shot while immersed in a swimming pool; check her out on the reverse liner and use your imagination. Voyeurism aside, This is the Moment is the chanteuse-songwriter's 4th release, and previous albums have deservedly earned her comparisons to Joni Mitchell and Emmylou Harris, to my mind: more the latter than the former, but there's a goodly measure of Van Morrison tossed in—especially catch the title track for that—and some Carol King (Western Channel of the Sky) as well as the sweetest parameters of Dan Fogelberg.
Thus, this is definitely AOR/MOR (and what the hell's the definition of 'AOR' any more???) fare done right, sans radio's over-obvious hooks and tin pan ostinati, all that replaced by sonorous cohesivity in storylines and poetics rather than chugga-chugga rhythms and labored catch phrases. That is to say that there's real human warmth here, not strung-together paraphrasings of MTV clichés. Small wonder, then, that she won honors in the John Lennon Songwriting and Lilith Fair Competition jousting lists. Webb isn't trying to oblique her audience into Tennyson or metaphorize as a Blake, instead ruminating upon things lost and things kept, the problems of faded innocence (All the Boys on Saturday is a killer example), and sundry major and minor existential whatnots, everything regarded with wistful kindness offset by pangs of longing (but without a hint of Sartre!).
You're My Friend becomes almost Toni Childs-esque, so she's obviously capable of higher emotive emphases when the occasion beckons, yet just as evidently prefers a well-balanced center. Boys on Saturday, however, gives away her true roots in the classics of the 60s/70s era and modernized madrigal. It's a song that belongs in a recital hall, not an arena or tavern, something to be contemplated as literate songcrafting transcending norms, art refusing to be nailed to an epoch or era. The Eagles-y Big Blue Sky returns to the AOR oeuvre, but Boys sticks in the mind all through the rest of the disc. Ah, but then the Bruce Cockburn-y I Will Remember hits a melancholy mid-point between the two, and you're reminded that, in the right hands, what at first appears to be all of a piece has hidden dimensions and refuses to be boxed in. That, I aver, is Wendy Webb's calling card.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2015, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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