August 2005

Webb Wilder - About Time
Landslide LDCD-1030
Format: CD
Released: 2005

by Joseph Taylor

Musical Performance ***1/2
Recording Quality ***
Overall Enjoyment ***1/2

Webb Wilder hasn’t made a new album in nine years, but his voice sounds as strong on 2005’s About Time as it did on It Came from Nashville, his first LP from 1986. Wilder’s slightly surreal sense of humor is intact (he calls his backup band the Nashvegans), as is his feel for American roots music. He covers songs by Big Al Dowling ("Down on the Farm") and Young Jesse ("Mary Lou"), but the new tunes, by Wilder and longtime producer R. S. Field, come from the same wellspring of country, rockabilly, and rock‘n’roll. "Miss Missy from Ol’ Hong Kong" could be Webb’s answer to Wanda Jackson’s "Fujiama Mama."

Guitarist George Bradfute fires off a series of great solos on About Time, aided by Tom Comet (bass) and Jimmy Lester (drums), who share his ability to shift gears quickly to meet Wilder’s needs. "You don’t have to be a good shot with a scattergun," Wilder sings on Fields’ "Scattergun," and more often than not, he hits the target. One gem is the old-style country tune "Old Copper Penny" by R. B. Morris, while another is the jangly, hummable "The Only One," co-penned by Wilder and Chuck Prophet.

The recording could have been a little livelier -- some slap-back reverb would have added some space and kick to these tunes. But this is the kind of effortless, enjoyable recording that only a craftsman of Wilder’s gifts could make. Nearly a decade is too long to wait.