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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Barb & Tom Webber

Only Way Home (Fair Webber)

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  Milwaukee's Barb and Tom Webber describe their third disc as "roots/Americana/folk," but that may actually be selling them a tad short. Yes, Tom has a craggy baritone that suggests the lost brother of Jim Post or John Prine, and chief songwriter Barb sounds like she could have come from a family that includes Joan Baez and Kathy Mattea. Yet, like fellow married Americana purveyors Buddy and Julie Miller, the Webbers have a knack for making music that, with just a little tweaking, would sound at home on commercial country radio.

  The occasional hint of smoky jazz and a few hooks that could pass for pop—one of the two non-originals here is a BoDeans remake—would be easy enough to morph into country radio. And their original tunes, covering everything from humorous marital spats to solving the troubles of the world, would make for some of the more thoughtful lyrics in the country genre, too. Still, they inhabit their music so personably that it’d be a crime to limit them to commercial country hits. Indeed, Milwaukee is fortunate to have this unique couple doing what they do so well.

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