It has been a long time since we have heard anything come from the local folk group Bombadil, which is really quite a shame. Maybe that is why I was so excited for the release of All That The Rain Promises, a new album that follows their 2009 release of Tarpits and Canyonlands. Everything that you hoped would be present on a Bombadil album is apparent in this new release: strong emotional ballads, beautiful folk and pop melodies, and upbeat songs with deeper meanings all combine to create an album that one can become emotionally attached to.
Battling illness in the band and now cross country living situations, I would say that it is quite a feat that Bombadil has been able to get together and record All That The Rain Promises. The album was recorded in a barn in Oregon in the month of January, and the band had to warm themselves by a fire in between recordings. The album was named after a book found on site. Even after being separated and having gone through a lengthy break in recording, Bryan Rahija, Stuart Robinson, Daniel Michalak, and James Phillips of Bombadil were able to create an album that sounds like the same band that played together in 2009, as if no time had passed.
All That The Rain Promises begins with the strong ballad “I Will Wait,” sung by Stuart Robinson. This piano-driven song is an emotional and bare start to the album with Robinson singing to God and asking him to guide him in the right direction. “I will wait for you to swing below and take me away,” ends the ballad. It leads into “The Pony Express,” which includes all members of the band and speaks of a relationship that has fallen apart.
The album transitions to something more upbeat and hopeful with “Laundromat.” The percussion-heavy beginning turns into a catchy song about taking some chances at a Laundromat. “The next time I am at the Laundromat/ I’m going to talk to her!” or “The next time I am at the Laundromat/ I’m going to call my dad!” Bombadil’s use of vocals, harmonies, and storytelling songwriting is one major characteristic of the band and is just right for the music they are creating. It seems that the melodies are written around the lyrics instead of the other way around. The guitar, harmonica, drum, bass, piano, ukulele, keyboard, and trumpet used throughout the album create good accompaniment for the stories that Bombadil shares.
All That The Rain Promises continues with higher-energy songs. “A Question” is, well, awkward, but in the best way possible. The ukulele and high-pitched “what is it Stewart?” add a lighter aspect to something as potentially traumatizing as asking someone if they have deeper feelings for you, which could indeed make things uncomfortable.
Bombadil has mastered the art of emphasis in their music. There are songs on All That The Rain Promises where the spotlight is on the vocals. “Leather Belt” begins with a beautiful harmony concerning a dropped acorn, and “Flour Water Sugar” consists primarily of singing and harmonies. “Avery,” on the other hand, is a very successful instrumental piece almost right in the middle of the album.
When the last song, “Unicycle,” ends, it’s hard not to turn back to the first track and listen to the album again. All That The Rain Promises contains all the makings of one of the best albums of this year through the instrumentals, melodies, harmonies, and of course, the emotional attachment that accompanies every Bombadil song. I look forward to what this band produces in the future.