Tomberlin – At Weddings
At Weddings shows Tomberlin tapping into a tentative inner strength, creating a soothing record that ends up resisting its self-doubts and reaches out its hand
Will religion ever stop being a fruitful topic for musicians? Born into a devout Baptist family which moved state several times in her childhood, Kentucky singer-songwriter Sarah Beth Tomberlin found herself growing up not knowing her place in the world. At Weddings, the 23-year-old’s debut album explores the loneliness of searching for yourself with a hushed reverence.
Given Tomberlin’s back story, you’d be right to think that Christianity plays a part on At Weddings: 'Feeling guilty for saying 'Oh my God' / No, I’m not kidding,' she sings on the opening guitar strum Any Other Way, in one of several tussles with her upbringing. Yet At Weddings proves to be a richer rumination on faith, as it tackles the nature of womanhood, adolescent romance and what it feels like to wonder whether anyone will ever truly know you.
Echoing with acoustic guitars, rumbling piano and Tomberlin’s sighing voice, At Weddings sounds simultaneously snug yet spacious, finding a fragile halfway point between Julien Baker’s spiritual soaring and the extreme seclusion of Grouper’s Ruins. Tornado’s piano tinkles like the eye of the storm, while the string-streaked ballad I’m Not Scared is the hardest hitting song At Weddings has.
Tomberlin’s biggest success on At Weddings is how she cuts through the morbid with a cautious humour, hidden in lines like 'I used a self-help book to kill a fly / I think it worked, Mom / I think I’m fine,' on Self-Help. At Weddings shows Tomberlin tapping into a tentative inner strength, creating a soothing record that ends up resisting its self-doubts and reaches out its hand.
Listen to: Tornado, I’m Not Scared, Seventeen