Le Rayon Vert album review - 9/10
July 24 2019
Melbourne singer Rich Webb took home two Independent Music Awards for the album Le Rayon Vert. Let's dive deep and see why those awards were wholly deserved.
The critically acclaimed album begins with 'Let it Rain', a toe stomping and allegoric composition, which makes it understandably loud. The track proves a red herring, however, as the album doesn't follow this direction for the rest of its journey.
Tracks two all the way to five can be considered major highlights for Webb, as each of them is surprisingly lenient, heartfelt and clever. Webb tackles the musicality of these songs in a manner that recalls George Harrison or Jeff Lynne. Meanwhile, his evocative lyrics are no lagging in the slightest.
The album's second half embraces a wider range in terms of genre, but it still manages to remain as lovely as the first half. Tracks such as the anthem, 'Shenandoah', and the swinging swan song, 'The Good Life', are the major standouts.
A grand achievement, Le Rayon Vert is an album for weary ears, tainted hearts and those who so happen to be in a wood cabin. – Rhys McKenzie
Rich Webb interview
Rich Webb on his new, world-inspired release
From Melbourne alt-country singer Richard Webb comes a brand new album, Le Rayon Vert.
By Anna Rose
With cinematic sensation at its core, this full-length release is an exploration of Webb’s off-beat stories delivered with his dusty, rasping voice.
Ahead of the album launch at the Northcote Social Club on Sunday April 7 with his cracking band, featuring David Grabau on guitar, Emilie Owen on keyboards and violin, Hugh Martin on bass, and Scott Lacey on drums, Webb unpacks the colourful intricacies of an album that has more depth than you might first assume.
The most striking thing at the surface of this new album is the name – Le Rayon Vert. As the bulk of the album was recorded in France, Webb named it after an ‘80s French film that he says he’s loved forever. Webb explained what about this film resonated with him and just how special the concept it contains is.
“I’m not clever enough to come up with a concept album idea,” he begins candidly, “but I was listening to these songs and it had more of a story focus, trying to find insight by telling the stories.
“I remember this film, and the concept is that when the sun goes down over the horizon, the last ray of light you get from a clear blue sea is a flash of green – that’s called the green ray.
“When you see the green ray, apparently the person next to you is supposed to understand your mind and you can understand theirs. This whole album is about understanding, trying to see through somebody else’s eyes.”
You could apply all kinds of metaphors to this idea, and indeed that flash of green light – a solid concept on its own – generates many depths and intricacies when you delve a little deeper, just like Webb’s new album. “That’s totally it,” says Webb. “There’s an insight in these songs that weren’t written from my view by any means. This is being more empathic about other people and what they’re going through.”
There’s a broad spectrum of global themes to the narratives on Le Rayon Vert and that spills over into the musical diversity. Webb doesn’t limit himself to any one sound, with a bit of Americana, punk, country, and rock all twisted up in this collection. It’s a cohesive and natural process for Webb on the whole. “I’ve never really thought about trying to be something, I just let songs have their own life.
“It’s a band affair, it’s not just me, and when we’ve got four or five guys in a studio we’ll try and work the songs in a way that makes them as good as they can be in whatever style it is.”
For Webb, things work in different ways, and he says he never approaches his sound from a commercial perspective. “I just let them go, and I kind of like it like it that way.”
Indeed, single ‘Let It Rain’ is not what you might expect and its accompanying video, with Webb and his band gate-crashing an unassuming children’s birthday party, is certainly not what you might expect – but the whole package is ultimately, a lot of fun.
“It was a big laugh, actually.” Webb giggles. “You get a bit serious about things sometimes and you don’t always have to be.
“I like the whole concept that rain can be anything – it could be a water gun fight, why not.”
Rich Webb comes to the Northcote Social Club on Sunday April 7. Grab your tickets via the venue website. Le Rayon Vert is out now via streaming services.
International album reviews
LE RAYON VERT
SOULTRAIN - 4/5*
For all our German friends - hooray, these reviews are mainly in German!
For everyone else, Google translate is pretty crap at this sort of stuff, as it is with most things, but I've used it to have a stab at making some sort of approximate translation where it seemed to work...
Rich Webb – Le Rayon Vert (All Killer Music)