Demographically speaking, I do not know much about Meg Webb. I do not know her full name, her age, her educational background, or her employment status. I have no idea what kind of car she drives, nor if she prefers public transportation. If Meg Webb is a homeowner, an activist, a student, or a genius janitor that solves an allegedly impossible equation on the chalkboard in a prestigious university’s hallway…well, I just don’t have a clue. Alas, thanks to the straight-forward and unexaggerated songwriting of her band Bicycle Voice, I can make plenty of other assumptions about Meg Webb.
The first assumption that I can make about Webb is that she is a talented multi-instrumentalist. When I was presented with this album, I was told Bicycle Voice was a “girl with a ukulele.” I mean no offense to the messenger, but if I were to try to sell you on Bicycle Voice by pitching her as just another girl playing uke, I think I’d be guilty of offending Webb herself. Truth be told, the ukulele is one of the stars of the debut album ‘Tis the Ghost of Martinellis, but very early on in the first track “Ellis the Trellis” Webb shows that she also knows her way around a guitar. The second song is heavy on percussion (which is attributed to a cohort by the name of Alex Cardwell on Bicycle Voice's Bandcamp page), but by the stunning third song “Red, Red, Blue” and its wide-eyed follow up “The Prologue to Snow” Webb has displayed first class chops on both piano and violin, as well as a few other effectual instruments that I probably shouldn’t embarrass myself by incorrectly identifying (Bells? Xylophone? A synthesizer? I’m just not sure).
Webb’s voice is an instrument worth mentioning as well. A good portion of the album’s appeal lies in her range and her accompanying restraint. Her vocals can be equally as dramatic (“You Are Graveyard”) as they can be playful (“Shine”), and she is able to slip in and out of her various characters with taste and grace.
The second assumption I can make about Webb is that she is fairly young. Most pictures you find upon searching Bicycle Voice on the web feature an adorable girl that looks like she wouldn’t even be allowed in the door of a bar to play a set. I have doubts that she is even old enough to see an R-rated film without a guardian. I have to hand it to the gal, though – she has either survived enough heartache and soul searching at a tender age to sing about it with conviction, or she really fakes it until she makes it.
Assumptions four and five about Webb are that she is a partial geek at heart and that she knows how to have fun with her art, which I came to via assumption three: Bicycle Voice hearts Harry Potter. The album is mostly filled with sweet and summery “will we or won’t we, and do I even care anymore?” odes to romance, but Webb slips a shenanigan of sorts on to the album’s roster with “Hermione’s Meeting Us at the Store.” The song is almost too silly to be present amongst all of the other pretty little gems on ‘Tis The Ghost, but it will still make you grin (especially if you are a bit of a Harry Potter nutter as well, and may or may not have watched the show “Hogwarts: Creating the Wizarding World of Harry Potter” on television last weekend like a certain review writer did...ahem). I offer a word of caution, however: I had the lyrics, “Hermione’s meeting us at the store, Hermione’s meeting us at the store – hopefully she won’t run in to Malfoy!” in my head for 16 hours after my very first listen.
Besides the chorus that wouldn’t quit, the only conclusive criticism I have of Webb’s debut LP is that the recordings are a little rough, sometimes burying her voice underneath the copious instrumentation. Hopefully the polish and pizzazz of Bicycle Voice will only flourish over time; I’m definitely an early fan left wanting to know more about Meg Webb.
Editor's note: Not familiar with the lovely author of this lovely article about a lovely girl and her ukulele? Well, guess what? Her name's Mylynda and she's pleased to meet you. She runs Indie College, a sibling of RFC. I write there for her. Most recently, I gave her a steamy editoral on the sexual significance of Gayngs called "Audio Orgasm: One Girl's Sexual Relationship With Gayngs". Read it!