Tomberlin
At Weddings


4.3
superb

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
August 11th, 2018 | 76 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Love is mostly war

At Weddings has that feeling of devastating, unrequited love. It’s looking at the man or woman of your dreams and knowing it will just never work out. “I don't know how to talk, when you're looking that way”, Sarah Beth Tomberlin forlornly wails, before being met with regret – “And I never found another like you”, on the pristine acoustic opener ‘Any Other Way.’ It establishes an immediate tone. At Weddings is going to be shattered, desperate. It’s going to be like showing up to the dance only to see that he/she is way off in the corner, gently swaying with someone else. Yeah, it’s going to break your heart.

The fact that Tomberlin wastes no time cutting to the chase is part of the album’s charm. Just as quickly as it begins, the record fades into ‘Untitled 1’, a prolonged series of ambient acoustic strums that are all too easy to get lost in. The album is full of such moments that elevate it above your typical singer-songwriter exercise. There’s the irony of ‘Tornado’, which is possibly the most delicate track – propped up only by icy chimes and Sarah’s earnest wails. ‘You Are Here’ feels like fluttering heartbeats, sliding into an effortless acoustic/drum groove that very subtly increases in tempo until the end of the track, and suddenly you’re racing towards that smile, those eyes, heart pounding. There’s no denying her innocence when she sings, “Cause you are here and I am here , and you are all I want.”

The atmosphere of At Weddings doesn’t change much. It echoes off the walls of its chamber, like an acoustic snow globe. It doesn’t matter though. Tomberlin’s vulnerability is the glue that holds this whole experiment together, espousing cascading acoustic guitars with real heartache, the kind that feels magnified with a cup of coffee on a rainy day. “You never learned to smile when you’re saying nothing’s wrong / I know you’re lying to me, let me break down the wall” feels like a monumental line on ‘A Video Game’, and it’s as if she’s summing up At Weddings in one verse. The album is a series of grayscale, still frame photos. These little memories all recounting how and when it went wrong, that when patched together form the fabric of a relationship.

By the closer ‘February’, all these painful memories are finally unveiled for what they are. “Someone I almost married, is doing that this month”, Tomberlin self-harmonizes, “I’m ignoring my reading and living like a ghost.” It’s a crystallizing moment for At Weddings – from the lyrics and gloomy aura right down to the title itself. It lends credence to earlier lines, like “I just don't trust people who like me.” At Weddings tells an entire story – from the beginning of the downward slope of the relationship to its inevitable end, and then dwells helplessly and hopelessly in the aftermath of the breakup. She hits rock bottom when she sings, almost as if her soul is fading, “And I crumble with each memory…” on ‘Untitled 2.’

Still, Tomberlin finds strength. For as crushed and traumatized as she is across the album, she always manages to dust herself off with a line like “to be a woman is to be in pain” or “love is mostly war.” She’s at her most triumphant on ‘Seventeen’, when she sings, “You always say that I look so tough…But it’s because I’m tough.” As if writing an album like this wasn’t proof enough. Sarah Beth dredges up her lowest moments, forcing her to painfully relive the highs. It’s an album utterly relatable because love, and heartbreak, are universal. It’s also something so amazingly personal that no one could precisely duplicate it, because every experience is specific to Tomberlin’s journey. That’s At Weddings: passion, devastation, depression , and strength rolled into one. It’s tenacious, and it’s beautiful.




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user ratings (35)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
August 11th 2018


27726 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Certain parts of this practically made me misty-eyed. If you're a fan of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, Haley Heynderickx, et al - don't waste any time in checking this out.

Digging: mewithoutYou - [Untitled]

FreddieDelaney31
August 11th 2018


4628 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Holy shit this is 100000% my kind of thing, about to listen~

Digging: Brockhampton - Iridescence

Cormano
August 11th 2018


1282 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

LOVED THIS REVIEW SOWING



honestly caught me off guard, I've been waiting for this for a couple of months but Sarah has been pretty much flying under the radar, virtually unknown, will listen after work, by the way you described it I'm sure I'm going to love it

hopefully she will start turning people's heads

Atari
Staff Reviewer
August 11th 2018


23747 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

lovely write-up



will definitely give this a shot! expecting good things :]

Digging: Elise Davis - Cactus

luci
August 11th 2018


10004 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yeah this is immediately gripping. nice find sowing

neekafat
August 12th 2018


12178 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Can confirm how goddamn good this is

neekafat
August 12th 2018


12178 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Lovely review man, thanks again for sharing this with me

"“You always say that I look so tough…But it’s because I’m tough.” As if writing an album like this wasn’t proof enough. "

Such a wonderful line, and I love your response and how it rhymes almost as if it were part of the song (:

Ebola
August 12th 2018


3253 Comments


this sounds like soccer mommy so I guess I gotta 5 it

Digging: Judicator - The Last Emperor

neekafat
August 12th 2018


12178 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Not THAT much like soccer mommy but it's pretty close, this is a lot folkier imo

Cormano
August 12th 2018


1282 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this doesn't sound like soccer mommy at all, maybe Sarah's voice and that's a stretch

mrend55
August 12th 2018


39 Comments


Listening now the first song drew me in pretty quickly loving it so far.

DoofDoof
August 12th 2018


455 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Brace yourself, I was planning to check this one

Digging: Dirty Three - Horse Stories

Atari
Staff Reviewer
August 12th 2018


23747 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

“I’m Not Scared” is holy shit good



this kinda reminds me of Julie Byrne - Not Even Happiness

GhostB1rd
August 12th 2018


1227 Comments


My first time listening to a wongwriter.

DoofDoof
August 12th 2018


455 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

This is a bit 'simple guitar/piano figure plus whingey vocals', has a bit of Grouper style ambience is the only intriguing feature I could detect.



I don't get anything emotional or too atmospheric from this, so I guess this is what I find 'boring music'. There's not really what I'd label 'a song' in the truest sense here, the compositions/melodies are too floaty to qualify. Maybe she's the next Enya :/



The Brigid Mae Power and Jennifer Castle are more my bag this year, this is a classic 2.5 rating.



She's only 20, she might grow into her voice and find an interesting way to develop her, erm, minimal song writing in the future so I'm not totally writing her off. Saying 'impressive for a 20 year old' sounds mean but that's the closest to a compliment I can pay this.



Obviously a lot of singer/song writers were more inspired/engaging at the same age too, so she'll be playing catch up on the true teenage prodigies you get. I didn't detect the hint of a personality from any track here, sadly. The Low-alike 'Self Help' came closest, but I mean it sounds EXACTLY like a Low song.

Atari
Staff Reviewer
August 12th 2018


23747 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Saw your 2.5 coming from miles away, haha

AsleepInTheBack
August 12th 2018


5864 Comments


With those artists recommended by the reviewer, how can I resist this?

neekafat
August 13th 2018


12178 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You should really like this Asleep (:

luci
August 13th 2018


10004 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Atari is right: Julie Byrne is the strongest comparison, in both the sparseness and the nature of the introspection.

DoofDoof
August 13th 2018


455 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

yeah, sadly I think you're right, she copped a doof 2.5 too



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