“There’s a lot of it about.” This was the reply I got some years ago when I asked a friend their views on Americana. The conversation is best left in the depths of time, but I mention it because he was right there was, then, a lot of it about … and I suspect there’s even more now. To hear a new album in the genre by an artist new to me and to find a vocal that compels with its clarity and the emotion it conveys is, then, a delight.
It All Goes Up is the new album by Beth Bombara and the first thing that hits you is her voice – from the intonation on the opening verse on ‘Moment’ to the closing lines on the closing track, ‘Fade’, (see below), Bombara’s vocal draws you in. In the crowded world of Americana, this is no mean feat.
Where else? I’d point you to ‘Curious And Free’ Bombara’s vocal playing perfectly against the fiddle sound, swapping the lead between them above an affective melody, while the lyrics tell of looking back to seventeen, “curious and free …. With no-one and nothing to fear” and comparing that life (at with whatever age is) now, “fighting gravity again … reaching to find some solid ground”. It’s a glorious track with some splendidly simple imagery, as affective as the melody, and some grand playing and singing.
I’d also point you to ‘Electricity’ and ‘What You Wanna Hear’ for their melody and arrangement and the way they work, sequenced together, on the album. Like ‘Moment’ they are a great introduction to the tone of It All Goes Up; the former is more driven by the band sound, particularly on the chorus, the latter is simpler, melodic, almost touching on latin acoustic at times.
‘Electricity’ also provides the album title. “Steady pulse / Current flows when you reach out/ Flash of red / I lose my head and it all goes up / Like an SOS / Can you hear me over the static humming? / Electricity / Will it keep us running? / Can you hear me over the static humming?”
Bombara says of the choice of album title, “On its own, the phrase ‘It All Goes Up’ is sort of open-ended, but to me it encompasses the idea that everything from here, that we are all moving towards something better, that there is hope even in the ashes” and she thereby moves the doubt of the original lyric into something appropriately more positive for the title of the album as a hole.
As an example of how neatly the album has been produced and put together ‘Electricity’ flows into ‘What You Wanna Hear’. The latter opens “Can we skip the part where we start yelling / Like banshees on a bender / Another log thrown on the fire” (lovely – nice reference to Shel Silverstein). At its close, ‘What You Wanna Hear’ in turn moves into the shedding of old skin in ‘Fade’ and the closing optimism of “[I] close my eyes / And I still see you shining / Don’t let your fire fade”.
There are ten tracks in all. It All Goes Up is a fine album. The only live dates on Bombara’s website are in America, (loosely) proximate to her native Michigan and her current home of Missouri. This feels like an album that should bring her to a wider audience.
Artist’s website: https://bethbombara.com
‘Moment’ – official video:
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