North Carolina, the Avett Brothers, blah blah blah. That’s how so many reviews are going to assess an album that many fans, including myself, were left wondering would ever actually see the light of day. Yet Bombadil’s recent problems seem to be firmly placed in the distant past and now here we are in the closing blustery months of a turbulent 2011.
You could be left wondering whether Bombadil had actually embraced the chill of the weather with their latest release All that the Rain Promises – as the album opener I Will Wait kicks into gear. It’s a slow, melodically pensive affair that seems to willingly encapsulate all that has gone before –namely bassist and vocalist Daniel Michalak’s nerve problems in his hands which threatened to break up the band – in a song that is as reflective as it is hopeful. ‘Oh my Savior of the Meek, can you teach me how to speak? Can you teach me how to love myself when I am weak?’ – it’s an apology, an excuse, a work of beauty.
You would be forgiven for thinking that Bombadil had grown up to the point of abandoning the quirkiness that set them apart on their previous record Tarpits and Canyonlands – however you need not worry. The following The Pony Express draws on a more familiar sound with harmonies, wonderfully simplistic acoustic melodies and an understated pop sensibility. It is this theme that underlines the album…for a while it would be easy to spit venom at such recent misfortune, Bombadil do not fall into the trap of self indulgence.
The album may even be a touch lighter than their previous outings as songs about a Laundromat and baking make appearances, in a contrast to the heartbreakingly wonderful Marriage on Tarpits… However this is not to say that – aside from the opening track – that this is a record lacking in sentimentality as the likes of Leather Belt and even the wonderfully unconventional A Question attest to.
This is a record that builds upon the successes of its predecessor and is the expression of a band who have been stunted by an unexpected break in their development. There remains a tried and tested formula to various tracks on the album, however this is perhaps not a bad thing when you consider that the band approaches songwriting from such a strangely intriguing perspective. Short Side of the Wall is one track that sees Bombadil step towards a direction that could see them take their brand of gypsy inspired folky pop to the masses, and quite frankly it’d be an honour to witness such a rise.