Amy Carol Webb

Amy Carol Webb has been such a dependable fixture on South Florida's burgeoning folk scene that it's hard to believe it's been a full four years since her last release. It's not as if she hasn't been busy; indeed, she has kept up a relentless touring schedule that has honed her performances and won her new converts.

Faith Fortitude Friends should also fuel that trend. While it fits the traditional singer/songwriter formula, from its lofty platitudes to its simple but supple arrangements, its main strength lies in its melodies, songs that leave an indelible imprint after a single listen. "Some Special Occasion," a sad reflection on love, loss, and feelings left unsaid, is teeming with tears. And "Nobody's Child," like her earlier "Daddy Don't Go," imparts a bittersweet biographical narrative of the kind Janis Ian is so good at delivering. "No Hands But Ours," a soothing hymn on the need to be God's go-fer, is absolutely inspired.

While cynics might dismiss Webb's preachy sentiments, a wide-eyed idealism reflected by the album title and themes that touch on the religious divide ("Oh Abraham"), violence in the media ("Till We Stop Watching"), and blessings of the everyday variety ("One"), her work is more assertive and affecting than ever. Whether through Faith Fortitude Friends, or some other source of affirmation, this lovely collection confirms her stature as the first lady of Florida folk.

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