Getting emails every single day from “hot new” bands can be a bit harrowing; sure, every band has their story and has their sound but how many of them are going to stand up to the big guys? Which bands will warrant multiple listens, and not just because you can’t decide whether you like them or not, but because with each repeated listen you find something else you like or some awesome element you might have missed on prior listens? Music trends are much like clothing trends – things that were old become new again, which is fine…sometimes. Right now the trend in indie rock is, somewhat unfortunately, folk-tinged indie rock. 90% of these bands sound like one another, a cheap version of whoever it was that inspired them or perhaps a strange amalgamation of Top 40 cutesy-pop with banjo or 12 string-twang indie rock that just doesn’t work for anyone. It’s easy to check the delete button in my email box when I read lines like “authentic roots record” or “a sweeping journey across coasts and five cities into fleeting highs and empty houses” without even checking the band out. Why? Because it’s garbage, beautiful fluff to lull me in to a false sense of security, telling me that I’ll absolutely adore this band because it’s so much different from that other band. But it’s not.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because I’m going to attempt to use my beautiful words (and the praising words of others) to tell you that there is something better out there. A folksy artist who isn’t pinned down under the booted foot, the heavy genre titled “folk”, or hell, even indie-folk. What makes Beth Bombara so different? Her difference. Yep. I know that sounds silly but I’ve also been guilty of brandishing strange genres and creating crude associations but Bombara’s the real deal. For years I’ve heard several of my local St. Louis music cohorts sing the praises of Bombara, but no one even comes close to singing those as well as the actual Beth Bombara. Her voice is rich, lush and so full of texture you’ll need an extra Wheach from the Cicero’s venue bar to wash it down. I’ve been guilty of only casually listening to Bombara but am now the proud owner of all three of her albums; the acoustic album Abandon Ship (2007), the full band recording of the album Beth Bombara and the Robotic Foundation (2009) (which happens to be my favorite), and her latest, from 2010, Wish I Were You. Sure, I got on the boat a bit too late – but I at least caught it. And listening to the maturation and progression of Bombara as an artist has been the lifesaver that drug me aboard.
Bombara’s vocal talent is arresting and easy to detect as it’s the most exposed element in the recording(s). But what really shines, especially upon those repeated listens, is how Bombara crafts her songs. Every song feels meticulously constructed but sung and strummed with such ease, an organic and comfortable progression can be found in every song. Those natural elements are what wraps the listener up, like their favorite blanket, as they listen from album to album.
Lucky for you, Beth Bombara is a local gem. Even luckier? She’s playing at Cicero’s on Friday night with a stellar line-up to boot. St. Louis’ precocious and brilliant Née will bring her own brand of unique and fun, dance-worthy tunes, featuring an equally outstanding vocal charm. Also on the bill for Friday’s exceptional show are The Pistolbrides and Jes Kramer. Bring $8 to Cicero’s at 8:30p on Friday and you’ll walk in knowing that your money was well spent and your Friday got a massive upgrade featuring beautiful voices and a crack at something great and new.
About the Author – Jennifer Metzler has been going to rock and roll shows all over St. Louis from an early age. She recalls some of her first ever shows as rollicking good, jam-packed, sweaty and perfectly dim-lit shows while standing on the Cicero’s venue floor. When not rocking out at shows, writing about music or listening to the newest breakout band, she’s writing about hockey, watching hockey, or screaming and throwing a remote across the living room in regards to, you guessed it, hockey. If you see her at a show, Cicero’s or anywhere around St. Louis, feel free to say hello!