- Buy the CD
Reviewed by David Medsker
Beatlemaniacs, take note: Webb is one of you (ahem, us), and The Ringing Bell is loaded with love notes to the Fab Four. “Name” begins with a ringing, “Paperback Writer” guitar line, then sports a vocal melody straight from Squeeze’s playbook (Difford and Tilbrook were called the New Wave Lennon & McCartney, so it’s close enough for jazz), and the melancholy “The Very End” owes a small debt to “Golden Slumbers.” “I for an I” sports a couple Beatle flourishes, from the wink-wink “Strawberry Fields Forever” reference in the keyboard line to the Harrison-esque slide guitar work.
There are other notable influences here, but it is not a coincidence that those influences are artists that also admire the Beatles. “A Love That’s Stronger Than Our Fear” sounds like a lost track from Matthew Sweet’s Girlfriend sessions, cleaned up for the God squad. “Can’t Be Without You” is the best song the Pernice Brothers never did, and while we’re talking power pop, holy Owsley, Batman. “I Wanna Marry You All Over Again,” which has the hilarious line “I wanna court you on the record label’s dime,” could easily have come from Owsley’s debut album. Curiously, Owsley makes most of his money as Amy Grant’s touring guitarist. The Christian circle, strangely, is complete.
In the interest of full confession, it should be noted that I had not heard of Webb before my publicist friend Monica dropped his CD in my mailbox. And as much as I love The Ringing Bell, Allmusic likes Webb’s other albums even more. If this is indeed the weakest album in Webb’s collection, then I need to head over to Amazon at once. Or maybe one of Webb’s fans will share his other albums with me. That’d be cool.