Tomberlin – i don't know who needs to hear this...

On her second LP, i don’t know who needs to hear this…, Tomberlin’s self-soothing becomes a tonic for modern anguish

Album Review by Katie Cutforth | 25 Apr 2022
  • Tomberlin - i don't know who needs to hear this...
Album title: i don't know who needs to hear this...
Artist: Tomberlin
Label: Saddle Creek
Release date: 29 Apr

Sarah Beth Tomberlin seems to have an entire world inside her mind. i don’t know who needs to hear this… invites us into that world, and all the beauty and loneliness it holds. 

Tomberlin’s songs carry an unknowable force. On i don’t know…, the intentionality and splendour that began to blossom on her 2020 EP Projections are now fully in bloom. Tomberlin holds onto the sonic space that allows her delicate vocals to fly but introduces a host of new sounds, too – pedal steel guitars, brushed percussion, woodwind, twinkling piano.

Tender, enduring melodies and earnest lyrics are central to the record. That’s not to say all Tomberlin’s feelings are soft ones – the slow-burning opener easy finds her quietly ferocious, imploring, ‘stop telling me I’m easy’, and on born again runner she continues to grapple with her religious upbringing. Elsewhere, tap ticks along merrily, at odds with its lyrics that broach social media, reality TV and questions of identity and worth. She’s as compelling at her softest (memory, unsaid) as she is on louder, crunchier moments like happy accident and stoned.

Tomberlin writes songs like they’re talk-therapy sessions, and in turn, her self-soothing becomes a tonic for the listener. The record closes with idkwntht; like a lullaby, cyclical and rocking, it conjures a dream state that positions her to convey her simple demand: she wants us to sing our feelings.

Listen to: easy, born again runner, happy accident