On her debut file, 2018’s At Weddings, Sarah Beth Tomberlin summed up her lyrical outlook: “To be a girl is to be in ache,” she lamented over muted piano and spectral reverb. “And my physique jogs my memory virtually daily.” The Brooklyn singer-songwriter usually writes about characters who’re always burdened: Whether or not they’re battling unrequited love or a Baptist upbringing, Tomberlin seems to be at small moments as a microcosm of bigger, lifelong points. Her 2020 EP Projections let in a bit mild, with playful songs about secret crushes and queer relationships, however spiritual trauma and concern nonetheless sophisticated the sapphic bliss of “Sin.” On her second full-length, I Don’t Know Who Must Hear This…, she loosens up and finds peace, if not fairly pleasure, within the unraveling.
Working with producer Phil Weinrobe, Tomberlin surrounds these songs with layered percussion and plush preparations, offering firm as she struggles with isolation. Woodwinds creep in on “Unsaid” and synths throb on “Reminiscence,” however even when she raises her voice on “Sunstruck” and “Stoned,” nothing can shake Tomberlin from the sensation of stasis in her lyrics. The percussive “Faucet” is about in the course of the first pandemic winter of January 2021, the place she’s caught watching senseless tv and unloading within the DMs of individuals she hardly is aware of: “Discuss to strangers like we already met/Regardless that it hasn’t occurred but.” Spirituality isn’t fairly doing it for her both: A tarot card studying in “Unsaid” solely makes her miss a poisonous relationship, and a go to to church on “Born Once more Runner” leaves her dissociating, “syncing my breath with the A/C.”
When Tomberlin’s songs go away the consolation of solitude, she reveals a versatility in her writing not at all times obvious beneath the burden of hysteria and melancholy. An unsure dalliance on standout “Blissful Accident” suggests the one factor extra sophisticated than craving for somebody is definitely creating the connection: Throughout practically six minutes, Tomberlin wrestles with emotions for an individual who might or might not really feel the identical means. The unexpectedly humorous “Accumulate Caller” swaps ambivalence for vitriol: “Accumulate caller/Don’t say you’re a baller/You’re a white boy residing in your daddy’s dime.” A petty diss monitor in direction of a superficial “indie boy” sounds misplaced on a file so emotionally closed off, however amongst these despairing tales of misplaced connection, his egotism seems to be much more shameless.
Vulnerability has powered Tomberlin’s music for years, and “Accumulate Caller” apart, these songs are sweeter and extra inviting than something she’s accomplished earlier than. One exception is the ending of “Stoned,” a fuzzy, pitch-shifted guitar solo that’s a jarring distraction from the file’s serenity. In contrast, “IDKWNTHT” is a powerful addition to the canon of indie songs that sound like an grownup coloring e book, its major-key, looping chord development evoking a nursery rhyme, give or take some expressive saxophones. Its tenderness is uncommon in Tomberlin’s anxious music, and uncommon even on this album. Visitor vocalist and percussionist Felix Walworth of Informed Slant supplies call-and-response all through the music, a playful, charming contact that seems like an indication of development for a songwriter who has tended towards insularity. Whilst she struggles to battle these instincts, the chorus brings a understanding smirk: “Generally it’s good to sing your emotions.” She is aware of, after all, that discovering self-love is simpler sung than accomplished.
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