Kat Webb: An Old Soul
An Old Soul
Self-Released Record 2011
While An Old Soul might seem to be an odd title for an artist’s debut – it is an appropriate appellation for Kat Webb. She was introduced to music through Baptist Gospel choir in Austin, Texas. Later she moved to the East Coast and studied traditional African-American music with a Yale a capella troupe, Shades. On the first listen, you can tell that Webb has a solid rich voice that complements a range of styles. Keeping with the title, this release is a compilation of soul, blues, and R&B classics, including tunes from the Beatles, Ella Fitzgerald, and Dinah Washington.
It’s always a challenge to cover a variety of iconic musicians, playing such popular songs and trying to create a new interpretation that carries some new weight separate from the original. The musicianship in this album is obvious, and the improvisations from the band do a good job at complementing the original tunes. Webb is joined by some talented musicians, Chris Rob on piano (who’s worked with John Legend and Kanye) and Maurice Brown on trumpet (Aretha Franklin, The Roots, and De La Soul). There is a great energy in the band’s playing, and the entire album was recorded live. The improvisations are all live originals, and the players only practiced a few times before they recorded the final tracks. But with the virtuoso skill of these session players, you could never tell.
The album was mixed and recorded in Royal Blue Studios, one of the few analog studios left in Brooklyn. There are no loops in the album, so everything heard comes from the sessions. All post was mixed by Robert Honablue. He’s been in the industry for over 28 years, working with legends like Dave Brubeck, Aretha Franklin, and Miles Davis. The whole band is piano, harp, tenor sax, trumpet, trombone, and drums. It’s a nice throwback to the “old soul” sounds of the past.
After listening to album a couple times, one starts to get the sense that Webb feels the most comfortable on the standout tracks. Fever, Blackbird, and Heard it Through the Grapevine, you can hear her really having fun, where the charge in her voice leads the band. In my opinion these tracks are the ones that sound most distinctly original, Hearing “Blackbird,” with piano and tenor sax instead of guitar might start you out skeptically, but her strong alto singing is a great foundation for this standard. Her voice heard over a sax is like velvet on all these aforementioned tracks. For a debut album, it demonstrates that Webb can hold up her own with classics, and has the potential to break out if she branches out to original songs.
3.5 outta 5
–by Kara Lee