Jackson Webber: What It Is

Those Wally guys again, but in country-rock mode.

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Given the idiosyncratic and seemingly unique country rock influence that informed Wally’s 1974 debut, it should come as no surprise that the recently reformed British band’s two main songwriters have succumbed to the allure of a project dedicated entirely to that genre.

With a breezy and endearingly sweet sound built upon strummed acoustics, pedal steel and gentle vocal harmonies, What It Is offers only the vaguest of links to Wally’s symphonic prog roots, but Will Jackson and Roy Webber exhibit such a heartfelt affection for this kind of music that any confusion or disenchantment soon turns to twinkly-eyed approval.

With echoes of the gentler end of Tom Petty’s catalogue, a dash of the Flying Burrito Brothers’ hay-chewing haze and even a faint whiff of Scapegoats-era Green On Red, songs like Falling Down, Heartbreaker and In The Night exude a refreshing honesty and innocence that benefit greatly from some wonderfully understated performances from all involved.

Things get a little mawkish at times, but then country music does mawkish on purpose, and you either go with the teary flow or get your sentimental kicks elsewhere.