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Beth Bombara Beth Bombara
Album: Map & No Direction
Label: At The Helm
Tracks: 8

Raised in Michigan but now based in St Louis, Bombara comes from a punk musical background, but, now on her fourth solo album, seems more likely to conjure thoughts of Stevie Nicks, Neko Case and Aimee Mann, though the guitar lines on the chords-cascading Pettyesque guitar rock album opener 'I Tried (Too Late)' are pure George Harrison. It's one of only three pacier numbers, the others being the mid-tempo Fleetwood Mac-like 'When I Woke' and punchy closer 'Made, For Now' with its flurries of scampering guitar. The rest is slower and more reflective, kicking off with the fiddle-pulsing rootsy blues title track, a song born from her struggle with depression, getting into dreamy slow waltz territory for 'Sweet Time', a country-soul number that's essentially a tribute to hubbie (and guitarist/producer) Kit Harmon, and weaving a lazy, languid southern soul vibe on the 97-second 'What We're Giving'.

Although much is drawn from her own life, 'Lonely Few', backed by pensive fiddle, sees her addressing political issues in a song about the racial divide and police violence against blacks in her hometown, the melody line far sweeter than the subject matter might suggest, handclaps and fingerclicks adding to the rhythms midway. The remaining number is a folk-veined slowly gathering cover of Dylan's 'Blind Willie McTell', although the melody seems to more call to mind The House of the Rising Sun than the original's 'St James Infirmary Blues'. At just around the thirty-minute mark, it's a bit on the short side, but, nevertheless, is well worth navigating.

Mike Davies