This St. Louis-based, Grand Rapids-bred musician sounds like caramel. Beth Bombara’s vocals are both rich and sweet, drawing the listener in with her indelible choruses and melodies. The LA Weekly noted that “The likes of Aimee Mann and Jewel are fair comparisons…every tone is tinged with emotion, nothing is wasted.” Beth’s new album It All Goes Up will be released on August 4, 2023 via Black Mesa Records.
Following the success of her previous album Evergreen, the songwriter/producer explores more hopeful themes as an antidote to challenging times.
It All Goes Up – release date 8/4/23 via Black Mesa Records
ST. LOUIS, MO — Beth Bombara’s It All Goes Up is for this moment what Kathleen Edwards’ Back To Mewas for the early 2000s. It’s all there – the songwriting first and foremost with a voice that connects on a raw, emotional level alongside production led by Bombara’s undeniable musicality, retaining the intimacy of being wholly conceived by the artist herself.
Bombara’s last album, Evergreen, was well-received by fans and media alike. “The likes of Aimee Mann and Jewel are fair comparisons,” noted the L.A. Weekly, “every tone is tinged with emotion, nothing is wasted.”
With It All Goes Up, Bombara has risen to a new level and let some light in. “There’s more light, more hope in this record,” she says, “and it feels more positive sonically, as well.” These songs were written during the chaos of the past couple years, and the time found Bombara looking for silver linings, writing to keep herself positive and keep her mind open and fresh.
She continues, “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.” Bombara’s songwriting certainly did take a turn – upwards, in more ways than one.
After studying music in college, she began playing in other people’s bands. It speaks to the depth of her musicianship that she played guitar and percussion in Samantha Crain’s band, bass in another project, and keys in yet another. So, just in case you weren’t aware – Bombara has talent and ears way beyond those of your average singer-songwriter.
Bombara spent years on the road in other bands before encouragement from peers led her to start writing and performing her own music. “I never set out to be a lead singer,” she admits. “I wasn’t comfortable being in the spotlight like that. I struggled with anxiety and talking into a microphone just froze me up.” Yet the songs were there. So Bombara slowly started performing her own material, watering the seeds that would grow into her own flourishing career. After releasing her first album, she was invited to perform in front of 10,000 people at the Missouri Botanical Gardens Whitaker Music Festival, and that was a breakthrough moment for her as a performer. “I figured, if I can do that, I can do anything.”
It does seem that way. Bombara produced this album herself, along with her partner, Kit Hamon. The drums, bass, and rhythm guitar were all tracked live, with lush sonic layers laid on top of the basic rhythm section one by one. Supported by her smart musical sensibilities, emotionally savvy lyric writing, and the strength of her production skills, Bombara’s latest batch of songs shine.
“Can we slow down / Long enough to take a polaroid picture / and wave it around / until the moment is material”
Bombara wrote “Moment” as a reminder to herself to live fully in the present.
“When the world sort of came back after lockdown, I wasn’t ready for it,” she says. “I’d adjusted to this slower pace of life, which gave me space to examine my priorities and what really brings me joy.”
You can’t do better than “Lonely Walls” for a pandemic love song. “I initially started writing it as a way to work through the separation from all of the people I love,” she says, “but then it morphed into this longing for one person.”
“Everything I Wanted” calls to mind Linda Ronstadt, and Beth Bombara would’ve been a 70s Americana heartthrob right alongside Linda. It’s not that it’s retro, really, but there is something of a different era about her music – it has an earnestness to it, an organic depth that feels natural and easy.
The last track on the album, “Fade” was a sonic collaboration with John Calvin Abney. “He came through St. Louis on his own tour and stopped at my home studio before his show.” Abney played Rhodes piano and electric guitar. “He was there for maybe an hour and then gone, but he brought so much to the song in that short time,” says Bombara. The song came together as a beautiful closer to the album.
The album title, It All Goes Up, comes from a lyric in the song “Electricity.”
“I wanted to take that line and add a little levity to it,” says Bombara. “On its own, the phrase ‘It All Goes Up’ is sort of open-ended, but to me it encompasses the idea that everything can go up from here, that we are all moving towards something better, that there is hope even in the ashes.”