Music Reviews
Beth Bombara

Beth Bombara

It All Goes Up

Black Mesa Records

ICYMI: The world has become a pretty nasty place — a living, breathing dumpster fire, some might say. Fortunately, celebrated singer, songwriter, and part-time pool hustler Beth Bombara has side-stepped the current cactuses of life while cartwheeling gleefully to the podium at just the right time, drippy waffle cone in hand. Testing-1-2. Testing. Is this thing on? And with her latest record, It All Goes Up, the St. Louis transplant succeeds in beaming more than a bit of light across an otherwise dark and tragic landscape.

Produced by Bombara along with the qualified assistance of her partner, Kit Hamon, the ten-song collection is the feel-good hit of the 2023 summer season. “There’s more light, more hope in this record,” Bombara says of her sunny-sounding new studio set. “It feels more positive sonically, as well.” (Ha — see! I told ya so!)

“When the world sort of came back after lockdown, I wasn’t ready for it,” Bombara says of her headspace while writing the engaging record-opening leadoff video single, “Moment.” “I’d adjusted to this slower pace of life, which gave me space to examine my priorities and what really brings me joy.”

Truly a hypnotic treasure, “Lonely Walls” is a beautifully lonely-feeling album highlight, one that reflects delicately and honestly on what we all endured during that thing a couple of years ago. OMG Ashley! Is that Aimee Mann over there crouching behind the gardenias? “I initially started writing it as a way to work through the separation from all of the people I love,” she says. “Then it morphed into this longing for one person.”

One of the record’s shiniest spots, “Everything I Wanted” is a catchy love song, punched up by crisp rhythm AND lead guitar work. Get ready! Here comes the pedal steel! And if you’re looking around for Karla Bonoff, she’s probably behind the gardenias, with Aimee.

Offering self-described “self-advice,” “Get On” is an intoxicating standout. Play. Repeat. Play. Repeat. “Sometimes I need a reminder to stop wallowing in self-pity and just move on,” says Bombara. “Yes, take time to feel it fully, but then leave it in the past. I’ve wasted a lot of emotional energy dwelling on things that I can’t change, and that’s time I’ll never get back.”

The album title is taken from a lyric in “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.”

Bombara’s poetry is magnificent. Her melodies, seductive. Those two compelling components collide perfectly on “What You Wanna Hear,” a fragile, heartfelt acoustic tune that owns one of the record’s best lines: “Can we skip the part where we start yelling? Like banshees on a bender all across the town.” Doggonit, I wish I’d written that one!

Described as a “sonic collaboration” with pianist / guitarist John Calvin Abney, “Fade” is a cozy record closer. “He (Abney) came through St. Louis on his own tour and stopped at my home studio before his show,” Bombara recalls. “He was there for maybe an hour and then gone, but he brought so much to the song in that short time.”

Beth Bombara
Virginia Harold
Beth Bombara

In sum, It All Goes Up is a total triumph — a sweet and lovely record, packed with emotional, deeply personal songs that possess the power to somehow speak to so many others. And that’s an itch that really needs a good scratchin’ these days.

It All Goes Up Track List

  1. Moment (Bombara) – 2:55

  1. Lonely Walls (Bombara) – 4:45

  1. Everything I Wanted (Bombara, Hamon) – 3:41

  1. Get On (Bombara) – 3:21

  1. Carry the Weight (Bombara, Hamon) – 3:08

  1. Curious and Free (Bombara, Hamon) – 4:16

  1. Give Me a Reason (Bombara, Hamon) – 4:38

  1. Electricity (Bombara) – 3:51

  1. What You Wanna Hear (Bombara) – 3:24

  1. Fade (Bombara) – 2:57

It All Goes Up is available everywhere August 5, 2023. Order it from Bandcamp.

Beth Bombara

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