Sometimes, when listening to Tomberlin, it’s important to be reminded that she’s singing for all of us—it often feels like her songs were meant for very specific feelings or situations. Sarah Beth Tomberlin’s previous works, Projections and At Weddings carried a similar ability to feel personal and raw, putting it all on the table in a beautiful, melancholic manner. This time, on I don’t know who needs to hear this, Tomberlin blends a heaping of stark observations on life with shimmering instrumentals, almost weaving in and out of our subconscious.
Much of I don’t know who needs to hear this is almost achingly difficult to hear. “born again runner” carries such a deep, vulnerable tone, set against stark instrumentals. While it is full of beautiful moments, they cut deep, the familiarity of these feelings a little too real at times. The track leans into a country influence, blending pedal steel with Emmylou Harris-like harmonies. Along with its predecessor “easy,” both tracks find Tomberlin at a point of being near self-deprecating. As she sings “Didn’t hear from you this weekend, and I know what that means,” a collection of dissonant piano chords signal the complications of love, and knowing what’s coming next.
There’s a sense of loneliness through much of the album, many of the tracks sounding like they were written on a gloomy, rainy day. “Tap” is set to a percussive guitar sound, almost imitating the sound of rain hitting a window. Tomberlin’s ability to paint such a picture through music is both inspiring and comforting, as she creates a space to sink into a sea of cathartic moments.
Album closer “idkwntht” brings Tomberlin back to her roots. It’s a relaxed, instrumentally minimal lullaby of a track. It focuses on Tomberlin’s delicate vocals and harmonies, a simple moment to reflect on the time between albums. With a childlike sound, it feels like Tomberlin rediscovering her love of songwriting and the act of making music. I don’t know who needs to hear this achieves exactly what Tomberlin set out to do, as she explained in a press release: “the theme of the record is to examine, hold space, make an altar for the feelings.” The songs on this record make even the most complicated and overwhelming feelings have a place, a moment, for validation.
Label: Saddle Creek
Extremely proud of her documentation of every Wegman’s item in The Office. Once got last place in a corn shucking competition.