REVIEW: Beth Bombara’s “Evergreen” is Diverse and Optimistic


Evergreen releases Aug. 9 — is the 6th for Americana-roots-songwriter Beth Bombara. It has moments of tequila strength (“I Only Cry When I’m Alone”), sweet wine (“Anymore”), & watered-down whiskey (“Criminal Tongue”). Now that sounds like a dig, but I’ll wear kid gloves.

Good efficient ideas, performance skills, production & band circuitry are at her fingertips. Optimism is a good trait in her showcase. The quiet piano dominated tune “All Good Things,” is potent. Quite a beauty even in its stripped-down form. I hear jazz singers, Diana Krall or Cassandra Wilson cover this.

Beth has a good voice, tonality & an abundance of diversity that displays originality in her approach. Her performance is different although I believe she could cut through harder with more unique song titles & prominent lyrics. Not poor, not rudimentary, just beer without the alcohol. She can do better.

The lyrics — not laid out in a Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Ferron or Steely Dan laced word-play type of composition is the drawback but, it does not diminish Beth’s sincerity in each song. Believe me. They are well-written although they could pack even more punch & vinegar. They are a pleasant listen.

I admire basically two lesser-known artists to commercial American ears despite decades of success & longevity. Beth falls respectfully between both. New Zealand’s exceptional Donna Dean (“What Am I Gonna Do,” “Rain Fall on Me”), & Michigan’s marvelous Carrie Newcomer (“Leaves Don’t Fall, They Just Let Go”). Beth reminds one of Aimee Mann as well (definitely on “Growing Wings”).

This LP features: Samuel Gregg (guitar), Mike Schurk (drums), John Calvin Abney (keyboards), Kit Hamon (bass, synths, percussion), & Beth (electric & acoustic guitars, vocals).

Though primarily a vintage traditional roots-oriented artist Beth dips into some blues. She might “dirty” up the sound a little to make “Good News,” thicker, more attractive to blues enthusiasts. The take here is convincing nonetheless & may remind some of the late Eva Cassidy in her blues days. The Donna Dean warmth rises in the sturdy “Evergreen” but, There’s Nothing Where There Once Was,” – a line in the song would’ve been a better, more compelling title.

While determined to be original & maintain a sense of optimism through her songs Beth is diluted a tad by some lyrical clichés & standard songwriting practices. The arrangements & performance make the final songs delicious & the tunes are pleasant enough. But so are 1,000 other releases. See my point?

To push through the contemporary barrier a little controversy should be added, some kick-ass intensity applied. Something noticeable displayed. Otherwise, it’s just another set of well-showcased songs that will fade into the ether as so many have. And in the case of Beth — that doesn’t have to be.

Produced by John Calvin Abney & Kit Hamon – helped by Beth, Sam & Mike, it’s a 36-minute 10-track CD.




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