James Robert Webb is unique in many ways. One of his most unusual attributes, however, rests with his ability to balance the demands of a thriving musculoskeletal radiology practice in Tulsa, Oklahoma with demands of a decidedly different nature from his Nashville-oriented musical pursuits. His endeavors in the latter area have paid off over the last decade and scaled new heights in recent years. Honored in 2022 with the prestigious Country Breakout Awards’ Independent Artist of the Year award, Webb’s recent singles include a heart-stopping cover of the classic “Always on My Mind”, 2021’s Billboard charting “Okfuskee Whiskey”, and the hit “Local Participatin’ Honky Tonk”. Webb’s prodigious talents position his new single “Gentlemen Start Your Weekends” from his fifth album Weekend Outlaw for similar or greater success.
It’s a hard-charging good-time anthem. There’s no grand statement packed within its four-minute running time, no sweeping reflections on human nature or observations of the modern world. Webb, instead, focuses his songwriting skill on something listeners can relate to – the unbridled thrill of temporary freedom from the five-day workweek experienced when late Friday afternoon hits. The lyrics portray that moment with gripping everyday language tailored for the music and Webb delivers the song’s message with gusto that peaks in the right places.
The music has up-tempo verve and scintillating guitar work. Webb builds the track around a central guitar motif that’s steeped deep in countrified Southern rock. The lonesome whine of pedal steel guitar is nowhere in sight. This is a kick out the footlights rocker complete with energetic honkytonk piano adding additional roll throughout the mix and Webb digs his teeth into the tune from the start.
It eschews extended instrumental breaks. The six-string does take a brief turn in the spotlight with some blazing lead guitar past the song’s midway point, but it’s otherwise all about the song, all the way through. Webb’s mastery of the genre’s fundamentals comes through loud and clear at every turn and he avoids anything smacking of self-indulgence. It’s been a hallmark of his musical output thus far and it’s safe to say he’ll continue following that approach.
“Gentlemen Start Your Weekends” benefits from superb production. Webb enjoys a long and successful partnership with renowned Grammy-winning producer Buddy Cannon, famed for his work with others such as Reba McEntire, Kenny Chesney, and Willie Nelson, to name a few. Their collaboration illustrates Cannon’s keen awareness of Webb’s strong suits and the producer’s innate instincts for what makes this sort of music work shine through every second.
We’re hearing a talented musician and songwriting in full career stride. James Robert Webb’s unique talents include an irrepressible sense of self bursting from every song and “Gentlemen Start Your Weekends” is no exception. It promises that his new album Weekend Outlaw will be just as satisfying as his previous efforts, if not more so, and swings the door open wide to even greater successes to come. If you’ve had a long week at work, James Robert Webb’s new single is the tonic you need.