On the 21-year-old Atlanta native’s new album, the omnipresence of pedal steel eschews bluegrass trappings, flexible under Webster’s genre-bending direction. Webster didn’t set out to make it sound like any artist in particular, but she cites Aaliyah as her main musical inspiration for how she uses sound.
“That’s where I first heard, ‘Oh, there’s this weird guitar that’s bendy and it could totally be in a country song,’ but the way she’s using it is what makes her music so special to me,” Webster explains. “I try to do that. I try to change the way pedal steel is supposed sound, to use it differently than its traditional sound.”
Pulling from a familial lineage of folk storytelling and time spent in Atlanta’s hip-hop scene, Webster’s work is a study of duality, weaving through her own introversion and heartbreak; it’s an idiosyncratic sadness punctuated by fleeting observations and an unexpected, sly sense of humor. And like the way Webster takes the traditional instrumentation of Americana and flips it into something else, she uses her own calm, laid-back demeanor to say you can be boldly and unapologetically yourself in a quiet way, too.