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Jimmy Webb - Cottonwood Farm

  by Lisa Torem

published: 7 / 10 / 2009

Jimmy Webb  - Cottonwood Farm
Label: Proper Records
Format: CD


Fabulous and inpsirational album which finds much legendary American singer-songwriter Jimmy Webb, collaborating with his four sons, the Webb Brothers, and also Bob Webb, his father

Composer, pianist, songwriter and arranger Jimmy Webb has been the only artist to receive a Grammy award for music, lyrics and orchestration. A native of Oklahoma and raised in California, Webb came from a musical family. His songs have been covered by Glen Campbell, Linda Ronstadt, Richard Harris, Donna Summer, Isaac Hayes, Ray Charles, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Art Garfunkel and even AOR bands REM and Urge Overkill. The Webb Brothers, Christiaan, Justin, James and Cornelius, together since the early 2000s, have released three albums, of which one ‘Maroon’ made Melody Maker’s Top Ten album’s list. Their music has been sampled by Doves and they have toured extensively throughout Europe with Franz Ferdinand and Doves. Bob Webb plays guitar and sings as well, besides being responsible for spawning such talented offspring. On ‘Cottonwood Farm’ the entire family contributes repertoire that showcases their individual performance and songwriting abilities while contributing to the ensemble feel simultaneously. ‘If These Walls Could Speak’ re-imagines the original 200 year old farmhouse in which the Webb family resided. Jimmy originally wrote the title song in the 70s and eventually decided to use it as the focus for this debut. A wistful ballad, it captures the imagery of a simpler time. ‘Bad Things Happen To Good People’ is a riveting pop song sung and penned by Justin. The Americana ode ‘Old Tin Can’ is sung by Christiaan. ‘Mercury’s In Retrograde’ was written by Christiaan and Justin, and sung by James. The balance of writing styles and vocals blend well throughout the album, though the writing styles of the Webb Brothers are predictably different than that of their father. Cornelius Webb is a flexible bassist and Cal Campbell, the son of Glen, whose voice helped catapult many of Webb’s working-man hits, plays steady and innovative percussion. ‘Snow Covered Christmas’ was written by Jimmy Webb in the 80s but is here being released for the first time. It’s a beautiful ballad frosted with Webb’s expected heart-felt flair. The much-covered ‘Highwayman’ is also freshly interpreted. One Youtube video shows Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson and Johnny Cash, et al., portraying the various colourful personalities brought to life in this descriptive and slightly melancholic, though life-affirming ballad that came to Webb in a dream. Lyrics such as, "I was a sailor/I sailed a schooner ‘round the gulf of Mexico/I was a dam builder…" clearly deliniate vocal territory. Bob Webb closes the album with an old American 40s standard ‘Red Sails in the Sunset.’ It’s inspiring to see how such a musical family can not only support each others muses, but also harvest original epiphanies without straying too far from the hearth.

Track Listing:-
1 The Highwayman
2 Cottonwood Farm
3 Hollow Victory
4 Bad Things Happen to Good People
5 Mercury's in Retrograde
6 If These Old Walls Could Speak
7 Where the Universes Are
8 Tin Can
9 Snow Covered Christmas
10 Red Sails in the Sunset

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Jimmy Webb speaks to Lisa Torem about songs such as 'Wichita Lineman', 'Galveston', 'The Highwayman' and 'MacArthur Park', his many musical collaborations and what makes good songwriting
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