The Webb Sisters : Savages

“Savages sees The Webb Sisters weld together a delightful mixture of folk and pop to create a bewitching album full of pretty harmonies, infectious melodies and evocative vocal hooks. Right from the opening Baroque Thoughts, Charley and Hattie weave a magical spell, their voices blend effortlessly over a backing of plucked acoustic guitar and harp. From there we’re taken on a glorious journey of contagious pop tinged folky numbers and the occasional upbeat rocker.” – Rhythm & Booze

Born into a family of musicians in Kent, England, Charley and Hattie are The Webb Sisters…..

Their singing and playing (harp, guitar, mandolin and more) draw from the folk and pop traditions of Britain and the United States. The Webb Sisters have recorded two albums, building a following in the UK and achieving album and record of the week on iTunes and BBC Radio Two.

The Webb Sisters were chosen to join Leonard Cohen’s live band on his first tour in fifteen years. 247 shows were played around the world between 2008 and 2010. Two DVD and audio albums have been released documenting the musical performances of the tour, ‘Live in London’ and ‘Songs from the Road’. On the DVD ‘Live In London’, Charley and Hattie are featured on the song ‘If It Be Your Will’.

The sisters run through each track in their own words here:

Baroque Thoughts

The first idea for this song came backstage at the Poetry Olympics at a Victorian theatre in London. We recorded this live with Jen Condos on bass and Jay Bellerose on drums at Conway studios in Los Angeles. The acoustics of Jay’s eclectic drum set up reverberated around the high ceilings. Peter (Asher) stood in the middle of the room with earphones on and conducted with vigor. (H)

I particularly love Jay’s muffled drum. It sounds medieval to me. (C)

Calling This A Life

We wanted it to be about our lives, normal lives, normal things that feel enormous sometimes. (C)

We are not too keen on loud electric guitars on our recordings, but felt CTAL needed an electric. Something spacious, dreamlike and of the night. Dean Parks came over and played the electric for this song. (H)

Words That Mobilise

Written in Belfast, recorded in Burbank. Charley and I would jam in our hotel rooms while on tour with Leonard Cohen and this song came out of one of those afternoons disturbing the neighbours. . . . The strings were added subsequently and Stevie Blacke wrote the arrangement. Stevie plays all the parts himself instrument by instrument. Peter and Jeff Ross added syncopated flutes on the choruses and a flock of flutes on the middle eight. (H)

The song is about the power of one’s own voice, how a single word can mean a thousand voices if only you can speak it. It’s about persecution, being taken advantage of; letting it happen or saying no. It’s about courage. (C)

Savages

We had just learned how to use a tiny digital keyboard that morning. We found a distorted harpsichord-esque sound on it and the song was born from that. (C)

I hope this song reflects what happens when one is injured by an outside force. The rebound reaction can be just as violent. That battle just ricochets back and forth until someone lets it be. (H)

Dark Sky

This song came from a dark place. A horrible time that just wouldn’t shift. It felt like occurrences had left an indelible imprint. Waiting inline at security at the airport the melody started coming and the lyrics almost simultaneously. (C)

Charley had recorded the sketches for this song on garage band. We wrote the middle eight lyrics as we were recording it. Both of us felt we wanted it to stay a cappela. (H)

Burn

We both love playing this kind of music and had written the song as a tongue-in-cheek fuck you before there was even a realisation of a relationship falling apart. (C)

This song had it’s first outing on a gig we played at the Borderline in London. Melvin Duffy played a mean pedal steel on this tune that night and one afternoon in north London he put those parts down for the studio recording. (H)

Amelie’s Smile

At this time, I was living in a top flat in a house in Greenwich and Charley lived around the corner. One day when Charley was round at mine, we had sketched down the beginnings of this song. When I was eleven or so I went on a French exchange with a girl name Amelie. There was something that had resonated within me at that time that was in my mind when we were writing this. There is an Amelie significant in Charley’s life, so we both had our inner voyages with this song. (H)

If It Be Your Will

The live version mentioned here is on the CD of the album and available to download with the code on the album sleeve. Charley and Hattie wanted to include the studio version on the vinyl version of the album.

Recorded at the O2 in London in July 2008. This was two months into the tour with LC, so for me it represents an early chapter of my relationship with this beautiful song and Leonard’s momentous lyric. It has been a joy to play this song with Neil Larsen – he plays the Hammond B3 organ with us here. (H)

In Your Father’s Eyes

We wrote this song whilst living on 4th and Rose in Venice Beach, LA. It was coming to the end of our time working with Universal and there was a feeling of change around us. (H)

It’s Leland Sklar on bass and Russ Kunkel on drums, a Peter Asher classic. (C)

Blue and You

This was a hinge in my life because I was on tour and heartbroken. We wrote this at The Driskill Hotel in Austin Texas, it came in an hour. (H)

This was another song that came to the table later when we were fitting time in the studio between live gigs with Leonard. We found a studio in the valley not far from the rehearsal studios and worked with a great engineer called Preston who helped us do whatever we were feeling musically at any time of day or night. This harp is a Dusty strings harp and that’s a grand piano that was in a kit cupboard at the back of the live room. We fit the piano part like a reverse jigsaw around the harp which is the center point of the song. (C)

1000 Stars

The first sketches for 1000 Stars were originally quite piano led. We wrote this song with Chris Braide in Wandsworth, London. When recording this, Jay Bellerose shaped the percussive live feel and Jen brought a ‘McCartney bounce’ to the bass part. (H)

We wrote this soon after our last album, Daylight Crossing, was first released in the UK. When we were recording it live with Jen and Jay they both kicked so much of their energy into it. (C)

The Goodnight Song

We wrote this on a dark night in LA for another album and it came from a different head space. We wrote it entirely together and spontaneously in about two hours. At the time it had no guitar just keys. Jay rigged up all sorts of percussion and became a one man multi instrument when he played rhythm with us. It was in no way a traditional drum kit. (C)

Yours Truly

We were both going through dealing with the disintegration of independently important relationships at the time we wrote this and came running at the song raw. When we recorded it the wounds hadn’t healed (for me at least). That’s Roscoe Beck on stunning delicately detailed fiery upright bass. (C)

This was the final track to be recorded for the album. We recorded our vocals through a pair of tights because at that time we didn’t have what we call a ‘spital guard’! Roscoe played upright bass on this track, recorded at Nathaniel Kunkel’s studio in the heat of the Valley during the LA rehearsals for the final LC tour. Peter, Charley and I particularly love the walk down part Roscoe plays that we call his ‘Bach’ moment. (H)


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DIV047LP
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2 Comments

  1. audrey
    Posted 15/09/2012 at 3:58 PM | Permalink

    Hi Girls,I had the pleasure of seeing you last night for the first time at Leonard Cohen Concert Dublin .

    AMAZING !

    Audrey

    Dublin.

  2. Myra Savage
    Posted 19/09/2012 at 6:13 PM | Permalink

    ~I have inly heard the Webb Sisters laast weekend. They sang with Leonard Cohen and I was really impressed. They are fabulous singers.

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    Savages

    DIV036LP
    180g Single LP
    28th February 2012

    Baroque Thoughts
    Calling This A Life
    Words That Mobilise
    Savages
    Dark Sky
    Burn
    Amelie's Smile
    If It Be Your Will
    In Your Father's Eyes
    Blue And You
    1000 Stars
    The Goodnight Song
    Yours Truly (Bonus Track)