The Desperate Hours: Twin Singles By Wolfgang Webb Promise No Rest For The Wretched

Titling his debut album The Insomniacs’ Lullaby was the first clue that Wolfgang Webb wanted to take us on a trip through the long, dark nights of the soul. But just how long and how dark those nights can be doesn’t really hit home until you’ve heard two of its spotlight tracks, songs steeped in a melancholia that only the anguish of personal experience can convey.

Take “Before You Sleep (The Pills),” which weds some truly harrowing imagery to an uncompromising dirge with the compellingly funereal quality of Leonard Cohen—and a mournful lead vocal that has more than a tad of Tom Waits-style grit.

Check it out on YouTube here:

If you wake up before me, will you hold me?

Will you show me?

And if I can’t wait until morning, will you tell me it’ll be alright?

Hold me, hold me, my friend

The pills stopped working again

The first song written for the album, “Before You Sleep” ended up setting the pace for the entire project, not just in terms of mood but also methodology.

Check it out on YouTube here:

“[All of the writing] was done in my bedroom between 2 and 6 in the morning,” Webb reveals. “I was in a manic-depressive, insomniac state where I wasn’t sleeping, and everything was very fluid. That’s just the way it was. It was really cathartic.”

Meanwhile, “Lonely Heart” has slightly more of a spring in its step rhythmically, but its lyrical sentiments won’t get it confused with a party anthem either. Acoustic- guitar chords fall dourly as Webb declares his longing for something better, with the chilling implication that the peace he’s searching for might not be on this side of the veil.

I got feelings deep

A soul that needs

Transparency all the time

I know a place where the soul won’t break

Do you know what I mean?

I know a place where it’s not all take

Do you know what I mean?

Listen on Spotify here:

The subject matter might be bleak, but Webb’s overdue debut as a solo artist was delayed a couple of decades not because of depression or fatigue, but because he was simply too busy in his previous career as a sound designer and soundtrack composer for films and TV. Lucrative as that hustle may have been, though, it wasn’t always the best outlet for his own tastes and emotional needs.

The lyric sheet is fraught with references to heartbreak, depression, suicide, and the ghosts of sexual abuse, but at the same time The Insomniacs’ Lullaby is not a wallow. It stares into the darkness with grace and poise and finds the transformative beauty in that darkness. Because that’s how you stop the darkness from getting the better of you.

Recorded everywhere from France to Los Angeles to Nashville Webb’s home base of Toronto, The Insomniacs’ Lullaby finds this emergent singing-songwriting talent backed by studio pros who are veterans of sessions with Johnny Cash, the Pretenders, Lucinda Williams, and others. The overall effect is as accomplished as you’d expect from that collective pedigree, and picturesque to a degree that fully befits Webb’s own CV. The songs on the album are so evocative and atmospheric, in fact, that you can easily envision them turning up in somebody else’s series or feature—perhaps as the music bed to a montage of desperate characters pacing worriedly through dimly lit rooms, with judicious jump cuts symbolizing their unraveling psyches. Maybe he could give pointers.

Whatever happens, Webb says he’s been so energized by the experience of making his own record that he now plans to release three albums in as many years.  Somebody better put the coffee on, because it sounds like he’s in for a lot more all-nighters.