Beth Bombara “It All Goes Up”

Black Mesa Records, 2023

Fine vocals and a varied collection of original songs from St Loius-based Bombara.

Artwork for Beth Bombara album "It All Goes Up"Beth Bombara’s new album release ‘It All Goes Up’ has been preceded by two singles from its ten tracks, ‘Moment’ and ‘Lonely Walls’, both favourably reviewed on these pages, and the full release lives up to expectations. Opening track ‘Moment’ sets the tone with its gentle vibe with pedal steel underpinned with acoustic guitar, and Bombara’s rich vocals floating effortlessly as she sings “Can we slow down/long enough to take a polaroid picture/and wave it around/until the moment is material”.

Acoustic guitar and Bombara’s vocals introduce ‘Curious and Free’, with cello and percussion added as the track builds, with an atmospheric instrumental on fiddle, and a reflective theme “I was seventeen/curious and free/dancing alone to the radio”.

Like many musicians the pandemic took Bombara in a different direction, writing that “During the pandemic I reconnected with an old guitar that had been collecting dust in my closet for many years. It’s a classical guitar, and I wrote a lot of the songs for this record on it, which brought something different to them and took the tone of the record in a new direction.”

Her plucked guitar contributes to a bucolic feel on ‘What You Wanna Hear’, while melodically the song could sit happily with Tapestry era Carole King’s catalogue.

A talented multi-instrumentalist, Bombara playing keys, percussion, and bass as well as guitar in band lineups over the years, the playing and production are shared with her partner, Kit Hamon, the drums, bass, and rhythm guitar all being tracked live, the full arrangements added later in the studio. ‘Give Me a Reason’ gives full rein to a big band arrangement, with distorted guitar from the get-go, and a vibe bringing to mind Cowboy Junkies.

‘Everything I Wanted’ is a hooky number, with a late 70’s Fleetwood Mac feel on its big chorus, “Ooh, I’ve got everything I wanted, Ooh, cos I’ve got what I need”, before a guitar instrumental which could come from a Man album circa 1975, over some Cars style rhythm guitar–and yes, it works!

Lyrics throughout are direct and relatable, as on ‘Get On’ “Put off until tomorrow/ what you can’t do today/tomorrow comes and goes/ while we’re just slumbering away/can you look yourself in the eyes/ through an obvious disguise/you’re not fooling me or fooling time/can’t stop those hands from turning/so when will you get on with your life”.

This is a vibrant and varied collection from Bombara with plenty to enjoy.

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8/10
8/10

About David Jarman 122 Articles
Long time fan of Americana genre, from early days of Ry Cooder, through to today's thriving scene. Regular visitor to USA ( Nashville/Austin/Memphis/LA ) live music junkie, I play guitar, mandolin, harmonica, plus vocals, run monthly jam session in Broadstairs
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