Many of the words that best describe Bry Webb’s solo record, Provider, have already been used. Humble. Freedom. Like the last precious U tile I need to complete the run of P, A, R, Q, E, and T, they’ve already been laid on the board and can’t be removed. It doesn’t much matter, as those words deserve to be attached to Webb’s solo work and tied to something of higher purpose or greater good. They are selfless. Understated, without expectation or demands, just like Webb’s song writing.
In an age where everyone searches for records that will change their lives (ironically, the power and charisma he offers on the beautiful “Zebra” could have been written by the musician that represents the Garden State, instead of the cliched movie that now defines it for this musical generation), Webb wrote one that embraces it. Moments that are glossed over by most are presented as vital inhales and slow exhales. Familiar melodies coarse through our veins. I know timing is everything and holding my newborn son and feeling the warmth of true love and family after a summer of loss and heartache, it’s easier for me to sink into Webb’s voice and float on the backing steel than most people, but this stripped down record feels bigger than you or me. It heals. It holds.
All too often we search for sincerity and honesty from a musician, falsely assuming they impact the end result. Whether or not Webb’s tales are snapshots from his own life — which they are — or a completely fictitious performance isn’t important. It’s that he convinces us to believe in what he’s singing, and inspires us with his words. Provider burns slowly, but ignites the flame that fuels our passion. Not just in music, but in life. In love. In perseverance and strength.
In lesser hands, these open confessions could have come off as open mic, coffee house but with Webb’s gifts, the thoughts become essential. Even with his storied career, these songs should be the ones that define Webb. Provider is open enough to invite you in, but make no mistake, Webb invests himself completely in each note. Nowhere is that emotion stronger than on “Asa”, a tribute to Webb’s son. When he says, “I will carry you home”, you realize it’s not his most clever turned phrase and doesn’t spit heat like we’ve come to expect from his old band, but the simple, selfless act makes me want to sacrifice everything for my two sons and be a better a man. I’m not sure a record could offer a better gift than actually making me want to change my life.