Americana artist Beth Bombara could not have created her new, self-titled album anywhere but St. Louis. On it, she and her band borrow from the city's traditions, including alt-country (Uncle Tupelo, The Bottle Rockets) and blues (Albert King, Lonnie Johnson), while embodying the collaboration, experimentation and resolve of the tight-knit scene developing there today. “There’s not much room for takers,” says Bombara. “But if you put in the work, St. Louis rewards you.”
Bombara has been a musician for most of her life. She started a punk band in high school and, after college, began playing guitar with Samantha Crain. She moved to St. Louis and started a solo project in late 2007.
Today, Bombara is hailed as one of the city’s finest songwriters with local music journalists taking note, including former Riverfront Times music editor Kiernan Maletsky who exclaims, “When you decide to start paying attention to music in St. Louis, Beth is among the first people you will encounter.” She is equally comfortable headlining the rock club Off Broadway and the Missouri Botanical Gardens’ Whitaker Music Festival, where she recently performed for a crowd numbering over 10,000.
The self-titled Beth Bombara displays its authors’ finest work to date. "Everything about this record feels more refined than anything I’ve released previously, from the songs themselves to the actual recording," explains Bombara. "Artistically, it’s my best work yet.” Previous efforts have served as explorations of Bombara’s musical personality (you’ll find records written in the languages of folk, rock and Americana in her back-catalog). The new album is full of crafty melody, expert musicianship, and lyrics that find the shortest path to the truth.
“There’s an obvious focus on the newest, latest and greatest in our culture right now,” says Bombara. “I have to think that, in many instances, our constant pursuit of ‘newness’ has caused some real damage. At best, we walk right past things that aren’t marketed to us as new. And at worst, we actually cause damage to our world by going after that which is new, rather than that which is lasting.”
This album also marks a major progression in Bombara’s collaboration with her husband, fellow musician and producer Kit Hamon. “We’ve always worked together on Beth Bombara records,” Bombara says. “They’re an extension of our relationship, and the efforts that make a good song are not unlike the efforts that make a healthy relationship. Whether the result of that work is good or bad has to do with how graciously we can sort the strong ideas from the weak ones.
On 'Beth Bombara', they have found grace and strength to spare.