Sunday, 4 August 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Beth Bombara - Evergreen : Self-released

Beth Bombara is explicit proof of how taking your music out on the road in front of new fans can be a game changer. Back in 2017 her most recent record MAP AND NO DIRECTION was given an international promotional opportunity. The danger in new markets is the extent of the competition and whether your record is going to fight through the crowded room to find sufficient listening time. Twelve months later she had the opportunity to leave her US home (Missouri to be more precise) and play a series of UK dates with Jamie Wyatt. Listening to her music in a different zone unlocked the door and a back catalogue, which stretches back a further four albums in addition to the latest release at the time, was duly explored. With connections in place, the chances of her brand new album EVERGREEN slipping through the highway cracks had all but eradicated and with little hesitation a whole hearted recommendation is forthwith. 

Of course, such a process is hugely personal and the next potential batch of Beth Bombara fans may not get the luxury of seeing her play live. Therefore it’s left to those in the loop to advise those outside that this album is rather good and you should take a punt on adding Beth Bombara to your listening repertoire. 

Once again, the Americana community, one that stretches far from the land implied in the name, is the likely landing point for the music of Beth Bombara, or those with rock or more precisely folk-rock leanings. EVERGREEN is a neatly rounded compound package of ten songs all smartly layered with a rich texture of guitar infused rock. This is the sort pioneered in the heartland by the usual suspects and more of a mid-west nature than downright southern. Melding into the guitar strewn pot is the poignant self-reflecting thoughts of a songwriter driven by sensibilities and one striving to find oxygen for her lyrical musings. The result is an album driving hard into your psyche and building a momentum to secure a listening spot in a multiple of settings. 

The impact of an ear bending opener cannot be over stressed in this day and age where new releases shower down like wedding confetti refusing to recognise borders or boundaries. In the guise of ‘I Only Cry When I’m Alone’, Beth Bombara not only safely reaches first base but seeks extra hit territory to bring in an analogy with America’s favourite pastime. To the uninitiated, it’s basically a super song. Not too far behind is the title track, with ‘Evergreen’ benefitting from a cool melody underpinning the strength of the album’s second half. 

From a strong start the record powers forward, taking a couple of rejuvenating pitstops to toss elements of flexibility into the mix. This includes a touch of twang injected into the excellent Tenderhearted’ and the slightly tempered beginning to Does It Echo before the guitar solo segments return. The biggest sound switch comes at the end where All Good Things tunes into piano mode and a seriously poignant ballad escorts the listener to the door reminiscent of the moments when Brandi Carlile slows things down. 

As impressive as the final track is, EVERGREEN is defined by its subtly crafted rock elements where jangly and conventional styles entwine. All this is bound by warm vocals adding to the satisfying feeling of tuning into the latest instalment of Beth Bombara’s flourishing recording career.

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