Beth Bombara – It All Goes Up
The Missouri artist Beth Bombara provides 10 songs on her It All Goes Up (Drops Aug 4–Black Mesa Records). Produced by Beth with Kit Hamon the songwriter/producer according to her PR focused on hopeful themes & positive swipes as an antidote to challenging times.
Tonality-wise she projects a smooth jazzy style akin to Madeliene Peyroux & Kathleen Edwards. While the jazz flavors are present the surface melodies are performed with a rootsy-country sensitivity. “Moment,” is nothing short of a sweet opener. There’s an intimacy to her songs but it’s her performance rather than her material that shines best. She could sing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” & get attention.
Beth sounds like she could be a viable potentate of popular music singing standards as well. She has considerable merit as an easy-listening chanteuse. Her pure approach is laden with Aimee Mann’s intonation. She hits all the notes with fluidity & she can be syrupy smooth. “Everything I Wanted,” is superior material with its tensile stretches of vowels. Her phrasing is gutsy & she sings with a provocative appealing drive (most of the time). There’s lots to like about Beth Bombara.
For more rock listeners “Get On,” has some intertwining guitar playing that would make The Byrds envious. At times Beth can sound like she sings at only one speed & doesn’t vary her attractive style enough (“Carry The Weight” “What You Wanna Hear”).If she chooses this path she might study Sarah McLachlan more. But I’d prefer to hear Beth further develop her instinctively brilliant slices like “Moment,” & “Everything I Wanted.” She isn’t Sarah & shouldn’t be.
The interior spread provides lyrics. The music as a whole has a 60s early 70s female singer-songwriter charm Judee Sill (“The Kiss,” “Jesus Was a Crossmaker”), Pam Polland (“Abalone Dream”) & Melissa (“Medicine Mixin’”) & Beth always maintains an inherent clarity in her work.
My only criticism is minor — the LP art. Fairly juvenile for serious songs. These collages just don’t work in 2023. Back in the 60s kaleidoscope artwork was fine. Not now. Bombara’s music deserves better.
Highlights – “Moment,” “Lonely Walls,” “Everything I Wanted,” “Get On,” “Curious & Free,” “Give Me a Reason” & “Electricity.”
Musicians – Beth (vocals/electric, classical & acoustic guitars/mellotron), Samuel Gregg (pedal steel & electric guitar), Kit Hamon (bass/bgv/synth/percussion), Mike Schurk (drums), Eric Henry (pedal steel guitar), Karl King (production/12-string guitar), Sam Golden (strings/electric guitar/mellotron/bgv) & John Calvin Abney (Rhodes piano/electric guitar).
B&W image courtesy of Virginia Harold. The 37-minute CD @ Bandcamp + https://bethbombara.com/
Enjoy our previous coverage here: Interview: Beth Bombara on 10/29