Music Education New Album Review

Faye Webster’s “Underdressed at the Symphony,” Is A Quintessential Breakup Album

Relationships are often marked by the music shared with people. There are songs I can’t listen to without remembering certain points in time, points in relationships, or points in states of mind, whether it brings pain or pleasure. 

The worst breakup of my life left me turning to the grounding capacity of music. Japanese Breakfast’s new album “Jubilee,” had just come out, and I spent all my free time wallowing and projecting onto the song “Kokomo, IN.” 

To this day, I can’t listen to that song, or a myriad of others without thinking about that specific person and stretch of time. I think of “Kokomo, IN,” as a capsule holding all of my emotions towards that relationship. They’re placed there for me to return to whenever I want, or to discard with appreciation for how it helped me process a difficult moment. 

It was empowering for me to mark the song as a memorial for my relationship. I never considered that it must be even more empowering to create your own album as a form of remembrance, and Faye Webster’s new album feels just like that. 

With her smooth voice and beautiful accompaniments, Atlanta based singer-songwriter Faye Webster quickly became a household name for indie music lovers. While I knew her new album would be good, I didn’t expect it to resonate so hard with my past experiences. 

Her highly anticipated new project “Underdressed at the Symphony,” is full of nostalgia and lost love. The album is lush and graceful, featuring Webster’s recognizable crooning and lengthy jam sequences. It is, unmistakably, a breakup album.

While Webster has been reluctant to comment extensively on the matter, it becomes abundantly clear through her lyricism. Each portion of the album does an excellent job capturing the restlessness and boredom which come after ending a relationship and the process of trying to become your own person again. 

In the song “Feeling Good Today,” Webster recaps her plans for the day with a sense of tentative hope. Short and sweet at about one minute and twenty six seconds, it’s surprisingly autotuned. “I’m feeling good today,” she sings. “I ate before noon, I think that’s pretty good for me.” 

After a breakup, progress seems slow and it’s hard to reestablish a routine. Losing a love, or even a like, leaves behind empty space where you have to pick up the pieces and find how to be on your own. Webster further captures this meandering sense of self, saying towards the end of the track, “Just find us something to do, Find a new hobby just to ditch it.”

Towards the end of the album comes the track “He Loves Me Yeah!” which encapsulates the entirety of the ended relationship with all its strengths and flaws. “My baby loves me,” Webster sings. “I think we’re perfect.” To me, this song captures the moment of questioning the end, of remembering all the times you had and even wanting to go back. 

There is also the extended repetition of specific lyrics, which starts right off the bat with the title track “Thinking About You.”.  Webster lilts continuously for the entire six minute track, “I’m thinkin’ about, thinkin’ about you.” 

While on the surface monotonous, this is a further reflection of how the album does a brilliant job of contemplating those commonly-experienced break-up feelings. They’re a continuous cycle of the same intense emotions over and over again, two steps forwards and one step back. For a little while it’s all consuming, and just as the lyrics of the song fill the space, a lost partner might obsessively fill your headspace. 

My personal favorite pick is the titular “Underdressed at the Symphony.” The song is sweet, sad, and self-aware. “I’m deprivin’ myself of happiness,” Webster sings. “Something I’m really good at.”

I love how honest and wistful Webster’s writing is on this track, with her stating that “I know you haven’t told your mother yet, because she invited me over again,” and the hook reaching out into thin air: “Are you doing all the same things? I doubt it.” 

Despite its high points, the album doesn’t really feel different for me than Webster’s other projects. With some variances, she still embodies the same sounds. That doesn’t mean it’s not still a pleasure to listen to. The power of re-contextualizing her work as an ode to a lost relationship brings a deeper meaning to the listening experience and the skill in Webster’s writing.

Overall, listening to “Underdressed at the Symphony,” feels a lot like coming home after a bad breakup. You might need a hug from your mom or to spend some soft time re-engaging with the world. Be gentle with yourself, the album urges, there’s so much tttttime. 

Top Tracks:

  1. “Feeling Good Today,” 
  2. “eBay Purchase History,” 
  3. “Underdressed at the Symphony,” 
  4. “Tttttime,”
  5. “Lego Ring,”

By Wordgirl

Between her time making playlists for future DJ sets, Wordgirl loves to watch movies and read books. You can find her hanging out with her cat, Mouse, and playing music too loud in her headphones.