Beth Bombara | Abandon Ship (s/r)

cd_bombara.jpgThe slight sense of uplift is juxtaposed with sweetly sung resignation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s something about unobtrusively robust music that’s very comforting. How often do you hear xylophone, piano and guitar tastefully intermingled? Well, maybe some people hear it more often than me, but within seconds of putting on Abandon Ship, I got an earful. When Beth Bombara’s slightly pained alto put words to the pleasant shuffle of the title track, the slight sense of uplift the aforementioned elements provided was juxtaposed with sweetly sung resignation. In these complicated times, the bitter and the sweet’s pairing resonates.

The crispness of her voice, its richness, conveys a strength that’s been tempered in the kind of upset with which broken hearts are all too familiar. The breakup no one wants to go through with, but everybody knows is necessary? That mixed myriad of emotions is all over this EP. To complement said emotions are all the elements of classic folk, executed with modern sensibilities. Thanks to the arrangements’ layers, melody and atmosphere, Abandon Ship has one foot in the bistro, the other in the winter cabin.

These are sentimental songs, but somber through and through. The arrangements lift them up, not weigh them down. That, paired with its brevity, is what makes Abandon Ship work so well. When the strings and kick drum cut in on "Worn," the closing and most foreboding track, the oppression you might expect is imbued with energy that, no pun intended, keeps the track afloat. In unskilled hands, the material on Abandon Ship could easily have become a song cycle of heart-sunk dirges; thankfully, Beth Bombara and everyone who supports didn’t let that happen. B+ | Willie E. Smith

RIYL: Aimee Mann, Natalie Merchant, Bon Iver

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