Evergreen (Lemp Electric)
Sometimes the voice gets you hooked in from the very first note. That’s the case with Missouri-based singer/songwriter Beth Bombara, who appears to have spent the entirety of her adult life roaming from place to place, soaking up experiences and then pipelining them directly to her larynx, after which they emerge in the form of gorgeous roots-rock tunes.
That’s not, of course, a fresh approach. That’s pretty much the career blueprint laid out by folkies since the beginning of time. But it’s been a while since somebody seems to have employed it so effectively. For this new album, Bombara holed herself away in a remote cabin in the Rocky Mountains, and let nature take its course.
“I wasn’t writing a new record — at least, I didn’t think I was at the time,” she says in a press release accompanying this album. “But I’m starting to realize, that’s just what I do. I write songs. You know how trees exhale oxygen? They don’t think too hard about oxygen… it’s just a byproduct of their existence. Well, songs are a byproduct of my existence. I’ve already exhaled these songs, but maybe they’re a needed breath for someone else. And the idea that even one other person needs them is what fulfills me.”
That’s a noble outlook — that you write for yourself and then wait to see who is attracted. And it’s working, the 10 songs on Evergreen are wonderfully personal, honest and touching. Importantly, they’re also great songs.
The melodies and hooks are all there, maybe especially on the slower songs such as “Tenderhearted.” The opening “I Only Cry When I’m Alone” sets the tone — the delicate verses building to a chorus that manages to stick with you without resorting to pop tricks.
Throughout, Bombara’s voice shines. The likes of Aimee Mann and Jewel are are fair comparisons — every tone is tinged with emotion, nothing is wasted. By the end, you’ll feel wiped out, yet you’ll want to listen to it again.