Tomberlin / Jake Manzi
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On her deeply moving debut album, At Weddings, Sarah Beth Tomberlin writes with the clarity and wisdom of an artist well beyond her years. Like Julien Baker and Sufjan Stevens, she has a knack for transforming the personal into parable. Like Grouper, she has a feel for the transcendent within the ordinary. Born in Jacksonville, Florida, and now based in Louisville, Kentucky, Tomberlin wrote most of At Weddings while living with her family in southern Illinois during her late teens and early twenties.
The daughter of a Baptist pastor, Tomberlin found herself questioning not only her faith, but her identity and purpose. In songwriting, she found relief and lucidity she had trouble articulating otherwise. When she was 19, she wrote “Tornado” on her parents’ piano and began to gain confidence in her music. A year later, Tomberlin had enough songs to fill an album.
Throughout At Weddings, Tomberlin’s lyrics yearn for stability and belonging, a near-universal desire among young people learning to define themselves on their own terms for the first time. The album is laden with reverence for music itself, for the power it has to heal and help people navigate their lives. It is a record about learning to love oneself and others without reservation, from a place of deep sincerity—a lifelong challenge with tribulations that Tomberlin articulates beautifully.
Jake Manzi’s 2016 debut, Singing to the Wall, opened doors for the Massachusetts-based singer-songwriter. Along with headlining an East Coast club tour, Manzi earned opening slots for artists such as Lori McKenna, Ryan Montbleau, Chris Collingwood (Fountains of Wayne), Robbie Fulks, and Mark Erelli. Those experiences fueled his passion for his art and resulted in a new batch of songs that eventually will become Manzi’s next record. With influences such as Randy Newman, Wilco, and Neil Young, Manzi continues to tell stories and reflect universal truths through his songs.