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Saddle Creek xBk Presents: Tomberlin w/ Jana Horn Sunday, May 22, 2022 ADVANCE: $16 // DOS: $18 DOORS: 7:00PM // SHOW: 8PM
xBk Presents: Tomberlin w/ Jana Horn Sunday, May 22, 2022 ADVANCE: $16 // DOS: $18 DOORS: 7:00PM // SHOW: 8PM
ON SALE FRIDAY, 2/18 @ 10AM
(Sunday) 7:00 PM
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About Tomberlin: What hides in the fog that keeps people apart, and what does it take to cut through it? These questions hang heavily over Sarah Beth Tomberlin’s music, whose hushed and intimate tones orbit answers as much as they savor the unanswerable. To be in relation to another human being is to engage with a deep mystery: We are all fundamentally alone, siloed into confusing bodies, and yet occasionally we find someone who lets us feel as if we weren’t. Tomberlin, the Louisville native who recently relocated to Los Angeles, delights in articulating and amplifying that mystery, picking out its details and marveling at its scale. In singing her aloneness she soothes it, and extends a hand to others reckoning with their own solitude–a paradox that warms her spectral songs.
Tomberlin’s new Projections EP continues the arc of her critically acclaimed 2018 debut At Weddings, weaving new collaborators and new techniques into her signature dusky milieu. Since the LP’s release, Tomberlin has toured with Pedro the Lion, Andy Shauf, American Football, and Alex G, played a Tiny Desk concert for NPR, and given a riveting performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! The five-song EP, capped with a cover of Casiotone for the Painfully Alone’s stunning “Natural Light,” reflects this period of intensive growth and self-discovery. “I wrote these songs while getting to know myself outside of people’s perceived notions of who I was,” says Tomberlin. “I just started being like, What am I interested in? What do I want out of relationships and friendships? What am I looking for that I don’t have in myself already?”
The rich vocal harmonies and guitar lines that made At Weddings so riveting still provide the EP’s foundation, but new percussive backing and instrumental flourishes open the path forward for Tomberlin. After touring the US with Alex G and playing new songs for the band in their shared green room, Tomberlin reached out to Alex Giannascoli and his bandmate Sam Acchione to produce the EP’s four original tracks. She recorded her new songs in Giannascoli’s Philadelphia apartment alongside Acchione and frequent collaborator Molly Germer. The fleshed out sound lends a sense of urgency to tracks like “Wasted,” an uptempo romp across the kind of thorny relationship that withholds as much as it gives, and “Sin,” a song that applies reclaimed Christian imagery to an unorthodox romantic partnership. “I don’t mind sinning if it’s with you,” Tomberlin sings against washes of violin and brushed cymbals. “Say a prayer/Lay your hands on me/I just wanna be clean.”
“I wrote ‘Sin’ while living at my parents’ home and exploring my queerness, but afraid to make it too obvious,” Tomberlin says. “It’s definitely using imagery that gets used against queer people, but making a joke out of it. That’s a thing with queer people. We all use humor to deflect our pain.” Tomberlin’s ability to pan across the general disaster of human relationality and then zoom in on an effervescent moment of pure intimacy is one of her greatest strengths as a songwriter. Queer people get shuttered under the label of sin by the wider world, and yet despite that brand they steal moments of love and healing for themselves. Love is, generally speaking, a wellspring of pain and dysfunction, but look at the moments where it works. “It’s all sacrifice and violence, the history of love,” Tomberlin sings on EP opener “Hours,” “But remember when we stayed up/And took turns playing songs?” The camera zooms in, and magic alights on the people who suddenly take up the whole frame.
You can refuse the mystery of how people manage to be among each other, or you can delight in what it offers, no matter how fleeting. Tomberlin opts for delight every time. Hers are songs for people who, despite the turmoil of the world at large, despite the weight of its sadness, unshield themselves and fall into wonder.d themselves, dreaming their way out of the cold by writing songs like “Coconut Grove,” a whirly psychedelic love song, and “Ribboned Skies,” a blazing ode to guitars and syncopation. Minneapolis has always played a part in the creative process for these dyed-in-the-wool locals. Long heralded as local hot shots in the cold, desolate, land of Prince, Westerberg and Dylan, John and Micky have still never stopped working the grind; in donut shops, bakeries and restaurants, toiling to make ends meet yet trying find beauty in the mundanity, and in the tranquil midnights.
Pelant, as a writer, thrives in the gloom of isolation; a cold void, “I think it’s this type of environment that helps me feel focused. Zero distractions. Focused in a way where I can tap into certain emotions. I think some of the best music transports you to a place in time where your memories become potent visualizations. When writing closed off like this, you can see the images easily and your brain will pick the right chords and tones and guide you where you ought to go. I think being alone during that type of hibernation season is a great space in which to create.” Once they emerged from their creative cocoon, it was down to the warmth and mythical allure of Austin, TX to bring the album to life. If Minneapolis was about hunkering down in cold isolation, Austin was about heat and life, working with producer Jim Eno (founding member and drummer of Spoon) out of Public Hi-Fi Studios, alongside live band members Mark Hanson and Chuck Murlowski, to record the ten tracks that make up Can You Really Find Me.
The tunefulness of this collection is not by accident. As Pelant deadpans, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could make a record that sounded like it has a lot of singles on it?” Whether it’s the infinitely hooky “Strands Align,” the up-tempo synth flourishes of “Recollections,” or the buttery soul of “Saving the Dark,” each song so adeptly sticks to the album premise of feeling “single-like” that you wonder how they will even choose any. In the grab bag of modern pop genres, from neo-psychedelia to shoe-gaze, ambient pop to cosmic country, Night Moves dream big on Can You Really Find Me and deliver a genuinely sparkling set that corrals all of these styles into one cohesive collection.
Reflecting once more on the new album, Pelant feels it functions in part as a rumination on aging; a period piece denoting his last 3 years, “I told myself at 18 I wanted to dedicate my 20’s to music and if nothing came of it, I would move on. So now closing out my 20’s, I feel there is still ground left to cover, I’m not quite satisfied yet. Our last album saw us hit a lot of hurdles; despite the successes we had, we parted ways with our management and lost a founding member of the band. While it’s proven to be a bumpy ride, I feel it just may be worth the trouble. I think I’m more comfortable now in my skin than I was at 24.”
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