US singer LINDSEY WEBSTER made her name with her 2015 ‘You Change’ album – a classy amalgam of smooth soul and jazz lite that resonated with lovers of the intimate singer/songwriter format. Ms W’s 2016 long player ‘Back To Your Heart’ grew her fan base and won a slew of awards – including being named Billboard contemporary jazz artist of the year for two successive years – 2016 and 2017. Lindsey’s latest album, ‘Love Inside’ has just won release and like her previous efforts it’s enjoying critical acclaim, radio play and commercial success. We last spoke to Lindsey last year on the back of ‘Back To Your Heart’ and with the new set really taking off we spoke again and began by asking what the last couple of years have meant for her……
Since 2016 a lot has happened: we stayed busy after ‘Back To Your Heart’ came out, playing lots of shows and festivals all over. We travelled all around the U.S., performed in London a few times, also in Holland, Belgium & Germany. While in London, we shot some live video with music streaming service SoulandJazz.com and, most importantly, throughout all of this, we started writing the material for ‘Love Inside’!
Yes, tell us about your visit to the UK….. was it your first, how did you find the audiences, were you surprised that they were aware of your work?
We have actually been to the UK 7 times now, and are scheduled to leave for our 8th visit next week! The first time I visited London was in August of 2015, when we were over the pond to record our first session of videos with SoulandJazz.com . While we were there, we played at a high-end restaurant called Le Caprice for an event sponsored Sennheiser (head phones)and Martell Cognac. That was our first official UK appearance! We have now played at multiple Pizza Express locations, Cadogan Hall, and Ronnie Scott’s, and the crowds are always warm and welcoming for us. I truly enjoy visiting and getting to play our music there and can’t wait to come back!
Now the new album…. ‘Love Inside’….. when did you actually start work on it?
We started working on the song writing for ‘Love Inside’ in March of 2017, and it was like the kind of growth spurt puppies and kids go through. We took a small hiatus from writing any new material after ‘BTYH’ because we were so bust traveling and promoting, and I think that Keith ( husband, and musical partner Keith Slattery) and I were both dying to write by the time Spring came around. We were both very inspired at the time…we had just moved into an old charming farm house (but new to us!) with a red barn outside of it that happened to be perfect for a small home studio. I think that once we had that space to create, it gave us the mental space to produce. We wrote the material in about a month – maybe a little more. We were also traveling a lot during that time and Keith would mostly work while at home on new ideas because he was able to record them. But I would still write while we were on the road…
So, are all the songs originals?
Yes, each song on ‘Love Inside’ is original. On every one of our four albums, the question always came up: what cover song should we choose? But at the end of the day, it was hard enough choosing between our own songs, let alone worrying about one we didn’t write. I love writing…it gives me a space to sit down and get my emotions out and say what’s on my mind, and I know that Keith feels just as strongly about composing. I don’t know if we will ever put a cover on an album…!
Who are the players –the same as on your last album? Who produced it?
We switched it up a little bit on this album and experimented with a few different drummers. We brought in Norman Brown to play guitar on ‘Free To Be Me’, and ‘It’s Not You, It’s Me’ was begging for some trumpet, so Keith came up with the idea of having Rick Braun play on it. So, the main band line-up is Keith on keys, Mike DeMicco on guitar, Fred Doumbe on bass, Foluso Mimy on percussion, Ken Gioffre on sax, Marcus Finnie, Lance Comer, Bud Harner, and Dan Hickey on drums. Keith, myself, and our audio engineer, Mark Gray, produced ‘Love Inside’.
Why did you choose ‘Love Inside’ as the title track?
After all the songs were written and it was time to choose the title of the collection, ‘Love Inside’ just seemed so appropriate. The album explores all of the facets of Love, and the main message of this album – all of my music, really – is to believe in and trust yourself; to know that you are enough, without anything else in the world. I think that a big problem in our society is the lack of self-appreciation. People are constantly feeling like they need to be something else and have something more. It’s a plague of the human condition. I am always really happy and relieved when I get reminded of how beautiful and magnificent it is to be alive. I didn’t always feel this way – I don’t always feel this way. It is a constant lesson I am learning, but the more I am reminded and work to appreciate this body and mind I am given, the better I get at it. This is my mission with my music; to make people feel love inside themselves.
‘Dream’ is one the album’s set piece big ballads…. what can you tell us about that one?
‘Dream’ goes off of the concept I explained in that last response. When that song came to me, I was hanging on the couch, it was 11PM, and I had my headphones on listening to instrumentals that Keith had written. I was so sleepy and was about to go to bed, but the words and melody just began to play in my head. It was bizarre. I rarely write a song in my head, but that is how ‘Dream’ came to be. I had to get out my book and write it down, because I was too afraid to lose it. I knew it was special when that happened. Even if it doesn’t turn out to be a single or anything, that song will remain one of the best songs I’ve ever written, lyrically and melodically.
What other tracks are you especially proud of?
I absolutely love ‘Free To Be Me’, not just for the lyrics, but for Keith’s incredible musical genius he exhibited on that one. I surprisingly did not even want ‘One Last Time’ on the album, but Keith really pushed for us to record it, and that has turned out to be one of my top 5. I’d say that between those two, ‘Opportunity’, ‘By My Side’, and ‘Love Inside’ are my choice favourites.
On one of the tracks – ‘Bad Grammar’ – the sound is very like Sade; other commentators have compared your sound to Dusty Springfield and/or Anita Baker…. what do you think about those comparisons. How can you forge your own strong identity?
I love when I get compared to such icons! It means that the sound we are creating reminds the listener of their own musical heroes, so it’s an honour when people compare our music to other great artists. A few people who have discovered our music on the radio have told me that when they first heard it, they said “who is that?”. That’s huge for me. I think it proves that we have our own sound that people don’t immediately recognize. It is just natural for us to compare new things to what we already know.
So how would you describe your sound…..? Again some commentators pigeon-hole you as “smooth jazz”, others put you under “soul” What is the “Lindsey Webster sound”?
Ideally, my music just makes you want to listen! I know it sounds strange, but with Keith’s natural jazz tendencies, and my love for creative lyrics and interesting melodies, we naturally have our own thing that fuses jazz, pop, r&b, and soul. We have been fortunate that our music fits into the Smooth Jazz world, and equally as fortunate that the listeners like it and accept it! Without the contemporary -jazz market, we would not have a place on Billboard, let alone the #1s and all. Today’s R&B is Rihanna, when back in the day, it was Anita Baker…two complete opposites! Don’t get me wrong, I like some pop music, more than one would think, but I would never make that kind of music. It’s just not who I am.
That sound – however you describe it – has been consistent across all your albums – so in what ways you would say that ‘Love Inside’ is different to ‘Back To Your Heart’ or indeed different to anything that you’ve recorded before….
I guess the only difference is when it was written. I think that as I change and grow, so does my song writing, naturally. These songs are more refined. I listened to my first album the other day, and I was surprisingly pleased by it. But when I compare it to ‘Love Inside’, I see such growth on all levels – writing, performance, mic technique, arrangements – all of it. Just like ‘BTYH’ is different from ‘You Change’. It was all the timing and what was happening in my life that made each song and album what it is.
Will you be coming to the UK to promote the new album…. and will you be playing more gigs here … I think last time you only played London and the South?
We don’t currently have any shows booked in the UK, but we will be visiting next week to record some more video with SoulandJazz.com. We will also be visiting some radio stations and do some interviews while we are there, as well. I am sure by the end of the year we will have announced some live performances, though!
Great, almost there…. you’ve been in the business since 2009 …. is it anything like you thought it would be when you started . Would you recommend it as career?
Before 2009, I did not do a lot of performing, though I did get some experience in the studio from the time I was 15. I didn’t spend a lot of time around people who were doing music as their career, either, so there was never a lot of talk about the Music Business and how it was or wasn’t. So far, for me, it has been an incredibly positive experience. Between finding Keith, eventually meeting my manager Bud, and all the things that have come since then, it has all been on the up-and-up! I am fortunate in that way, because I am well aware now what people go through on their journey. The only way I would recommend music as a career to someone is if you literally can’t do anything else. All I think about – have ever thought about – is music. The only thing I did when I was a kid was sing or spend my time learning to play the cello. My grades weren’t that great in high school, even though I actually enjoyed it. My focus just was not there. I watched people around me excel in sports and in their studies, but I always knew that was not for me. I was lucky that things unfolded the way they did for me, but I also take some responsibility for it. I knew what I wanted to do in my heart, and I worked for it. I was fortunate to have parents who supported my dreams, and friends who believed in me, too. So, I would sing any chance I got; at karaoke, open mics, doing session work – literally anything. If it involved singing, I was there. If you have the passion, let go of the doubts. I was either fearless or crazy, but whatever it was, I never doubted my path. Not that I am an expert, but I think this works for all decisions in life. If you’re going to do something, do it whole-heartedly; invest all of yourself into what makes you feel good. If you don’t get anything else out of it, at least you’ll feel good!
And finally when is the album out and how can we find out more?
Love Inside is out right now and you can find it on all your favourite platforms like iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, etc. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and of course, my website has lots of info. You can visit at www.lindseywebstermusic.com .