The songs on Beth Bombara's Abandon Ship EP don't mess with the standard singer-songwriter fare — stories of busted love, personal perseverance and romantic hopefulness pop up over these six songs. Lyrically and vocally, Bombara takes the middle road; nothing is overly bombastic or depressingly morose, and she opts for an even-keeled, coffee-house-friendly singing style instead of expressing the depths of her soul through vocal histrionics. This is a good thing.
Maybe it's because her name comes right before Beth Orton's in my iPod, but Bombara's sweetly ragged, potently hollow voice recalls some of the British singer's more naked moments. The first half of Abandon Ship puts her voice front and center, with mixed results. Simple acoustic guitar strums guide these plaintive, low-slung tunes, and muted, open piano chords give a nice, unobtrusive weight. On a song like "Together," though, her voice doesn't always fill the space left by the unadorned arrangements. The next track, "Making Our Way" is more successful at rounding off the corners, adding punchy electric piano, twinkly glockenspiel and brushed drums. Likewise, "Worn," the disc's final track, is led by a swooping fiddle line, suggesting that Bombara's songs work better with tasteful, organic arrangements.
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