Tomberlin
i don’t know who needs to hear this...


5.0
classic

Review

by Atari STAFF
May 2nd, 2022 | 81 replies


Release Date: 04/29/2022 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Light your candle, cast your spell

This is the moment I’m entirely convinced Sarah Beth Tomberlin is a master of her craft, and perhaps a mage set out to repair our aging hearts. Her 2018 effort, At Weddings had some heavy-hitters – an excellent addition to any normie’s indie folk library – but this here puts you in a dumbfounded trance from front to back. It’s more intimate and delicate than its predecessor, yet somehow manages to sound bigger. Even the barest moments – the soft, occasional breath of a piano or lonely saxophone – feel incredibly powerful, even intimidating. She’s leveled up virtually all her appeal here: the lyrics carry more weight, the music itself has more life to it, and she surpasses even the best of peers like Angel Olsen or Phoebe Bridgers.

There’s an unmistakable human quality to singer-songwriter music that makes it special, but also essentially pointless to decipher from a critical standpoint. It brings our most secret emotions to the surface, often reconnecting scrambled parts of our childhood with our current mindset. For me personally, this moment comes within the vivid confines of the percussion-heavy “Tap.” A familiar rhythm of sprinklers brings into focus a vibrant green field: it’s my favorite childhood park and playground. My parents would drop my brother and I off there for a kid’s summer day-camp and we would run wild and – mostly – ignore the counselors tasked with keeping an eye on us. The world was our oyster; I can oddly picture it like it was yesterday. These warm memories suddenly feel heavy, as the painfully honest self-reflection shifts to present day. When Tomberlin croons "always wondering if I’ll go to hell" and "I should sleep more but I’m always wide awake", everything comes crashing down.

I Don’t Know Who Needs To Hear This, is all about these highs and lows we experience throughout life. It’s a bit ridiculous how many emotions are flowing through each song – as if it’s running on an unstoppable current tapped into the human psyche. Everything unravels so smoothly as the Kentucky songwriter takes her time with each passionate reflection. Though the heart of the album typically beats to the peaceful quality of a gently plucked guitar – and effectively so – it flourishes to new heights musically with the help of several guest musicians and flawless production touches. “Collect Caller” pulls in New York musician Stuart Bogie for a thriving but meticulous saxophone contribution. It proves the perfect choice alongside Tomberlin’s fragile demeanor, adding depth and warmth to some of her most lighthearted recollections. On the other hand, the 70s-esque guitar tone of “Stoned” has an irresistible foot-tapping rock ‘n’ roll feel to it that feels much less contained – soaked in a just a bit of psychedelic appeal. I think we’re good to conclude this album has something for everyone, even those less invested in the thoughtful lyricism. You can tell how much care was put into the entire listening experience. Everything about it is completely satisfying, and it rewards you the more you spend time with it.

As I get lost in the guitar fuzz and charm of “Happy Accident” or the haunting piano melody of “Memory”, I’m simply giddy. What can I say, I’m a nostalgic guy. Every song on IDKNWTHT is strong on its own merit, but when digested as a whole, the album is overwhelming in the best kind of way that stirs the soul. For an album with so many emotional peaks and valleys, things end with a sense of resolution on the comforting title track. With its reassuring lyrics and guest musician Felix Walworth (Told Slant) trading verses with her as naturally as can be, it emits a strong sense of inner peace. Even through its darkest moments, Tomberlin has an optimistic outlook. As I continue to face my own demons and mental health battles, I can tell I’ll be unravelling and reflecting with IDKWNTWH for quite some time. It’s a bittersweet and authentic ride – an album that bridges the gap between being young and “trusting the invisible” to just trying to make sense of this mess around us. My baby girl is getting older, and it won’t be long before she’s running through that same park from my childhood, the sun warm on her pale skin. I wonder how long she’ll be able to stay in the light before she’s shrouded in darkness; I hope it’s longer than I did. Yet, I know someday she’ll realize – as we all must – one can’t exist without the other.



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user ratings (48)
3.7
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
Atari
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2022


27361 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

completely blown away by this...



another singer-songwriter review where I talk about myself and my feelings half the time but w/e - that's what these kind of albums are all about! the personal connection I felt when listening to this is practically indescribable. gorgeous, moving stuff here folks. betting even Doof might give it a 3 :]



will likely be crashing soon (it's been a weekend) but will touch this up if necessary in the morning. love you all

Digging: Ethel Cain - Preacher's Daughter

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2022


27982 Comments


So happy to read you in your element dude. I was gonna pass on this cause honestly the singles left me cold but that 5 calls for a skimming to say the least.

Digging: Ethel Cain - Preacher's Daughter

BlushfulHippocrene
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2022


3935 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Okay I will listen to this immediately, lovely to see you writing.

Digging: Ethel Cain - Preacher's Daughter

fogza
Contributing Reviewer
May 2nd 2022


5531 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Awesome review. Her debut was fine but this is such a step up I'm stunned how good it is

Digging: Warpaint - Radiate Like This

budgie
May 2nd 2022


28891 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

i think the album design is killer

if anything on this is as good as tornado ill be happy

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2022


3802 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The triumphant return of Atari!



Awesome review. First listen to this, I wasn't blown away overall but absolutely loved the closer.

CottonSalad
May 2nd 2022


2450 Comments


Que'd up

Digging: Pascal Battus, Anne F Jacques, Tim Olive - Trois Conseillers

JesperL
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2022


4436 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

v happy you're back atari, wonderful read/wonderful album (although i feel like it'll need some more time to grow - i'm currently unable to pick fav tracks)

Digging: Dream Dolphin - Dolphins Talk to You

CottonSalad
May 2nd 2022


2450 Comments


Lot's of sensitivity throughout, definitely enjoyed listening...don't feel much to return to somehow - but that weightlessness is a nice start

Slex
May 2nd 2022


13731 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Love u Atari ace review and correct score

Digging: Coheed and Cambria - Vaxis II: A Window of the Waking Mind

Cormano
May 2nd 2022


3392 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yes

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2022


3802 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Really came together for me on second listen, score will likely go up with time.

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2022


3802 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Best new music, boys and girls!

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2022


47469 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

so she is now the newest phoebe bridgers and people are excited about it



huh

Digging: Dream Dolphin - Dolphins Talk to You

Atari
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2022


27361 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

she's better ;)



I knew that Phoebe mention would be like dangling bait on a hook for you.. Lol. I actually don't think she sounds that similar so kind of starting to regret that comparison already but if it brings some extra hype I'm all for it. I can definitely hear some Grouper in here, maybe even a little Big Thief? As much as I adore PB, I think this is much more versatile



also really appreciate the kind words everyone, means a lot! just glad to still have this space to gush from time to time

fogza
Contributing Reviewer
May 2nd 2022


5531 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I don't really feel this is like Phoebe Bridgers tbh

Atari
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2022


27361 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

"although i feel like it'll need some more time to grow - i'm currently unable to pick fav tracks)"



couldn't agree more with this. it was tough trying to decide what tracks to even mention in the review. "Tap" is a favorite simply due to the imagery/personal connection I get but album is stunning all the way through. "Memory" is also something else..

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2022


3802 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I do think Phoebe Bridgers is a fair comparison, musically this is jazzier though and I could easily someone enjoying one and not the other.

theBoneyKing
May 2nd 2022


22162 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Found this quite lovely on my first spin yesterday. Hadn't listened to her before but on the basis of this I've been missing out.



Phoebe Bridgers is definitely an influence on some of the production choices here methinks, but this definitely has its own thing going.

Digging: Ethel Cain - Preacher's Daughter

Scoot
May 2nd 2022


21178 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

excellent release

Digging: Tomberlin - i don?t know who needs to hear this...



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