Faye Webster isn’t like the other twangy artists you might know. She’s not afraid to add R&B elements to some of her self-described Americana songs — for her, it shows growth.
The songs on “Run and Tell,” her debut album, she says, were pretty, plain and simple. They’re objectively good, but they formed the kind of 11-song set that she doesn’t want to make in the future. “I look at it like a bad tattoo,” she says now.
Webster was only 16 when “Run and Tell” came out in 2013. At the time, it was just her, her guitar and her songs. Her father encouraged her to make an album, because he thought she should have something to sell at her shows.
That kind of support from her family helped Webster, now 21 and a buzzy star, discover just how much she loved music. As a child, Webster says, she was surrounded by instruments: Her mother plays the fiddle, and her grandfather played bluegrass guitar.
Growing up in Atlanta helped shape her as an artist; she went to shows and hung out with primarily hip-hop artists (rapper Lil Yachty was a middle school friend).
“I definitely would not be a musician making the music I am if I didn’t grow up here,” she says in a phone interview. “I think Atlanta was really supportive. I think you can do anything that you want, and everybody supports it and pushes it for you.”
Webster signed with Awful Records soon after dropping out of Nashville’s Belmont University. That might’ve seemed like an odd fit, considering the label founded by rapper/producer Father featured such acts as Playboi Carti, Tommy Genesis and Abra. Whereas most of Awful’s music features synths and a heavy bass with fast lyrics, Webster’s music is more pop with a twang. “Everybody knew I was the outlier but that was kind of the point of it,” she says. And it made people in the industry take notice, such as Billboard and W Magazine.
Even if Webster’s outsider status brought attention to her music, her penchant for displaying her Southern roots with a touch of R&B made people stick around and listen. A jazzy sax, soulful strings and bass connect Webster’s hip-hop and R&B influences to the way she wants to make her own music.
That’s especially true on her latest album, “Atlanta Millionaires Club” (which was released by Secretly Canadian). If “Run and Tell” was chock full of dreamy, pretty lyrics, this third full-length album sounds a bit more grown up. And that’s kind of who Webster is writing for these days.
“I really kind of honor listeners that, like, listen,” Webster says. “Not just like put-on-the-house music or in-the-car music. But listen, and don’t just hear a good song or a bad song. But listen and hear what I’m saying or what I’m trying to say. I think that’s really important.”
These days, Webster’s music talks more about loneliness and bad romances. On “Hurts Me Too,” Webster sings, “My mother told me one day she’s tired of my sad songs.” On her single “Room Temperature,” she croons that it “looks like I’ve been crying again over the same thing. I wonder if anyone has ever cried for me? Nothing means anything, at least anymore.” Compared with singing about budding romances and dream sequences, Webster has taken a darker but even more soulful turn. A lot of that has to do with who she spends time with — or doesn’t.
“I think living alone is kind of where that all comes from,” Webster says. “That’s because I don’t like to talk to people every day. I don’t come in human contact every day, which is very different from the past, like, 20 years of my life.”
But Webster says that loneliness propels her to continue living the way she wants to.
“I like living in the moment,” she says. “I’m not really thinking about things. I’m just doing what I want, which is making music [and] playing shows.”
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